Visit Us

National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge provides opportunities to get outdoors, whether it’s for hunting and fishing, wildlife observation, a scenic river drive or just to stretch your feet. 

Driving Directions

The refuge headquarters is located at Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, between St. Louis and Hannibal, Missouri. To get to the refuge headquarters, take Missouri State Highway 79 to the town of Annada, Missouri. From Annada, travel one mile east on Pike County Road 206. Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge is the headquarters for Great River National Wildlife Refuge and Middle Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge.

To Meissner Island Division

From Valmeyer, Illinois, take Highway 156 west to Harrisonville. Turn right on Harrisonville Landing Road, proceed west for 0.3 miles and turn right on the levee. Proceed north one mile. The refuge boundary will be visible on your left.

To Harlow Island Division

From Festus, Missouri, take Highway 61 south to County Road AA. Turn east on County Road AA, then follow the signs to Truman Park Boat Ramp. A paved road and parking area are located at the southernmost boundary of the refuge. Visitors MUST park at the Truman Park lot, as no parking is available or authorized at the end of County Road AA.

To Beaver Island Division

Beaver Island Division is accessible by boat only. Take IL State Route 3 north from Chester, Illinois. Turn left on Roots Road. Take another left on Lock and Dam Road. Turn left into the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam administrative building and visitor contact station. There are two boat ramps, one above the lock and one below. These boat ramps provide the closest access to the division.

To Horse Island Division

From St. Mary, Missouri, take Highway 61 to Old Channel Rd. Cross the bridge. The refuge has an access road and parking lot just to the west of the intersection of Old Channel Road and Kings Highway (access road runs parallel to Old Channel Road).

To Crains Island Division

From Chester, Illinois cross the bridge into Missouri on Missouri 51 South. At the first intersection after the bridge, turn left onto PCR 238 (Levee Road) and drive approximately 1 mile (making a slight right toward the south). Take a left on PCR 228 and follow for about 3.75 miles. Turn left at PCR 230 (headed back north toward the Mississippi River) and follow for approximately 1.6 miles. The road will intersect with Levee Road. A refuge access and parking area is just north of the levee at the intersection of PCR 230 and Levee Road.

To Rockwood Island Division

From Chester, Illinois, travel south on IL State Route 3 for approximately 8 miles into the village of Rockwood. Take the first right as you enter the village, onto an unimproved road. Drive under the railroad trestle and follow it back (approximately 200 yards) to the refuge parking lot.

To Wilkinson Island Division

From Route 3 south to Jones Ridge, Illinois, take Jones Ridge Road south approximately two miles to the levee road. From this point, the refuge boundary follows the base of the levee approximately one mile east and two miles southeast.

Fees

There is no charge to visit.

Restrooms

Plan ahead! There are no restroom facilities on any refuge division at Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge. The City of Chester, Illinois has a welcome center with public restrooms located at 10 By-Pass Road.

Points of Interest

Wilkinson Island Division is a local songbird hotspot in Jackson County, Illinois. This area offers an opportunity to see bald eagles as well as a chance to traverse the 2.3-mile trail through floodplain forest. A short trip down the Great River Road, following the Degognia Fountain Bluff levee, will have you embracing scents of dogwood and buttonbush while indigo buntings and prothonotary warblers flash about providing their tapestry of color to the sky.

Harlow Island Division, in Jefferson County, Missouri, offers opportunities to hear yellow-billed cuckoos, red-shouldered hawks and is a sanctuary for waterfowl. In less than an hour from St. Louis, a visitor can access the area by exiting Interstate 55 at OO/DD, right towards State Highway 61. Turn left on Highway 61 and follow the signs to the Missouri Department of Conservation Truman Access.

What To Do

If you have 15 minutes

  • Visit the headquarters/visitor contact station in Annada, Missouri

If you have one hour

  • Take a scenic drive down IL Route 3 (also known as Great River Road). This route runs parallel to the Mississippi River, past refuge divisions, and provides stunning views of the river bluffs and forests. This drive is especially beautiful during peak fall foliage.

If you have half a day or more

  • Bird the floodplain forest with a hike on Center Trail at the Wilkinson Island Division. This 2.3 mile trail provides viewing opportunities to see and hear migratory songbirds during spring and fall migrations.

Know Before You Go

All seven divisions of the Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge are frequently flooded affording big river fishes access to the Missouri and Illinois floodplain. It is important to check the Mississippi River stage at the Chester, Illinois gauge before heading to the refuge as most of our divisions become inaccessible by land beginning at a river stage of 25 feet. Visit or call the refuge to get current conditions. Always stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing, convey your outdoor adventure plans to friends and family and pack sunscreen and insect repellant.

Activities

Whether you’re a hunter, angler or just someone who enjoys the outdoors, there are numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation at the refuge.

Trails

Center Trail

Open Season: Open year round, however seasonal flooding could impact accessibility
Length: 2.3 miles
Location of trail: Wilkinson Island Division
Surface: Dirt and rock
Difficulty: Easy to moderate; grade is flat but regular flooding could cause surface irregularities
Information: The center trail access is located off a parking lot on the north side of the Wilkinson Island Division and winds through floodplain forest characteristic of the Mississippi River

South Trail

Open Season: Open year round, however seasonal flooding could impact accessibility
Length: 0.5 miles
Location of trail: Wilkinson Island Division
Surface: Dirt and rock
Difficulty: Easy to moderate; grade is flat but regular flooding could cause surface irregularities
Information: The south trail access is located off a parking lot toward the southeast side of the Wilkinson Island Division and winds through floodplain forest characteristic of the Mississippi River
 

Other Facilities in the Complex

Middle Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Great River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The complex spans twos states (Illinois and Missouri) and includes a series of island and land divisions along the Mississippi River. The complex includes Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, Great River National Wildlife Refuge and Middle Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge. All three refuges are managed from the headquarters building located at Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, MO.

Rules and Policies

The refuge is open for public use from legal sunrise to legal sunset. Refuge hunting and fishing regulations generally follow Missouri and Illinois state seasons and regulations. No general permit is required for access on to the refuge. Special use permits are issued for compatible secondary uses, research, commercial photography, nuisance trapping and other short term related activities. For questions and more information, please refer to the refuge brochure or call the refuge headquarters at 573-847-2333.

Locations

Middle Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge
99 S. Main St. St. Genevieve, MO 63670
Hours
Headquarters Office and Visitor Contact Station Hours
Monday - Friday, except federal holidays
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Note:
Refuge office is located in St. Genevieve, Missouri.
Lands, Roads and Trails Hours
Daily
Daylight hours only, except for lawful hunting activities which may occur from 1/2 hour before legal sunrise - 1/2 hour after legal sunset