National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge offers a variety of recreational activities, from birding and wildlife watching to mushroom and berry collecting.
Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge
2227 N Beach Road
Meredosia, Illinois 62665
From Beardstown: Follow Route 67 south from Beardstown approximately 10 miles to Highway 104. Turn west onto Highway 104. Follow approximately five miles. Turn north onto Putnam Street. Follow Putnam to Gaskill. Turn east and then north onto Beach Road. Follow Beach Road half a mile to refuge.
From Jacksonville: Follow Route 67 north approximately 25 miles to Highway 104. Turn west onto Highway 104 approximately five miles. Turn north onto Putnam Street. Follow Putnam to Gaskill. Turn east and then north onto Beach Road. Follow Beach Road half a mile to refuge.
Refuge headquarters building is located at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.
Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge
19031 E County Road 2110N
Havana, Illinois 62644
There is no charge to visit.
There are no public restrooms available at the refuge.
Points of Interest
Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge is a functioning floodplain refuge consisting of separate units near the town of Meredosia. The units are combination of seasonal wetlands, bottomland forest, upland forest, prairie and permanent marsh habitat for migratory birds, fish and resident wildlife. Some of the units contain remnant natural areas that have not been significantly altered by human disturbances.
Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge has a one-quarter mile accessible nature trail that ends on a scenic boardwalk overlooking Carver Lake
What To Do
If you have 15 minutes
- Stroll the Evan’s Prairie one-quarter mile nature trail that meanders through sand prairie, old pine plantings, bottomland forest and ends on a scenic boardwalk overlooking Carver Lake.
If you have one hour
- Explore the wetlands at the Shearl-Skinner Unit. Quietly walk along the milkweed topped service road in search of monarch butterflies or explore the woodland lined service road in search of wood ducks, hawks and owls.
If you have half a day or more
- Wander the Kloker Unit along the bluff of the Illinois River where forests still stand as they did in the late 1800s.
Know Before You Go
When planning a trip to the refuge, it is important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear for boating or hiking excursions and to dress for the weather. Poison ivy is common throughout forested areas. Consider bringing water, food, binoculars, field guides, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and anything else that might make the outdoor experience more enjoyable. There are no public restrooms available.
Sunrise and sunset offer picturesque views of the refuge landscape and are also a great time to look for active wildlife. There are informational kiosks with maps and regulation brochures at the Evan’s Prairie and Shearl-Skinner Unit parking areas. Boat ramp access to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources managed Meredosia Lake is located at the Grierson Prairie Unit. The refuge headquarters is located at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge where staff can help you plan your visit.
Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge provides multiple opportunities for visitors to experience nature through wildlife-dependent activities involving fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife interpretation, wildlife photography and environmental education.
Evan’s Prairie Nature Trail
Open Season: Open year round
Length: 0.25 Mile
Location of trail: Trail head is at the information kiosk located in the Evan’s Prairie parking area at 2227 N Beach Road, Meredosia, Illinois
Surface: Gravel and raised wooden boardwalk
Information: The nature trail meanders through sand prairie, old pine plantings, bottomland forest and ends on a scenic boardwalk overlooking Carver Lake
Other Facilities in the Complex
Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Complex. This complex stretches along 124 miles of the Illinois River in west central Illinois, and consists of three refuges: Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge and Meredosia National Wildlife Refuge. The complex totals 13,000 acres of backwater lakes, bottomland forests, floodplain wetlands and upland habitats.
Rules and Policies
February 1 to October 15: All land and water areas of the refuge are open to foot and boat access. Refuge lands are open for public use activities from sunrise to sunset
October 16 to January 31: Portions of the refuge are closed for waterfowl sanctuary. Foot access is permitted on refuge land along the east side of Meredosia Lake in Morgan County. The boat ramp remains open throughout the year for access to Meredosia Lake.
Motorized Vehicle Access
- Motorized vehicles are permitted on Beach Road on the east side of Meredosia Lake, and on the entrance road and public parking area near the maintenance facility.
- Off-road vehicle use, including ATVs, is prohibited.
- Hunting is not permitted on refuge land.
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources conducts blind drawings in July for waterfowl hunting on Meredosia Lake.
- For more information about waterfowl hunting on the state managed Meredosia Lake, please contact the State Field Office at 309-543-3262.
- Sport fishing is permitted on all areas open to public access from February 1 to October 15. The use of bows or crossbows is prohibited.
- Wildlife observation is permitted in any area that is open to public access
Nut, Berry and Mushroom Picking
- Nut, berry and mushroom picking is allowed in any area that is open to public access
- Camping, overnight use of the refuge, fires and fireworks are not permitted
- Pets must be on a leash
- The possession or consumption of alcohol is prohibited on refuge