National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stresses of daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is centrally located along the Mississippi Flyway, a major route for migratory birds, affording visitors an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing, wildlife photography, hiking, hunting, fishing and paddling.
If you're using a GPS or mobile mapping application to navigate to the refuge you will need to use a different address than our mailing address. Enter Wildlife Conservation Road, Brussels, IL. When you arrive at Wildlife Conservation Road follow the signs to the refuge. GPS Coordinates for the refuge headquarters are 38°56'9.31"N 90°32'29.35"W.
From Alton, Illinois
Travel west 17 miles on Highway 100 (passing through the town of Grafton), then cross the Illinois River using the Brussels Ferry. Continue 4 miles, then turn right onto Hagen Road, continue on Hagen Road which turns into Wildlife Conservation Road, follow signs to the refuge headquarters. There is no fee for the Brussels Ferry, which is operated 24 hours per day by the Illinois Department of Transportation. When Brussels Ferry is closed due to ice or high water you can travel north on Hwy 100 to Hardin, IL. Drive south on Illinois River Rd 14 miles from Hardin toward Brussels. Continue south through Brussels 3 miles until you see the sign for Two Rivers National Wildlife refuge headquarters and Swan Lake boat ramp. You can check the status of the Brussels Ferry on the Illinois Department of Transportation website.
From St. Louis, Missouri
Take I-270 east to the MO-367 north exit. Stay on 367 N until you cross the Clark Bridge into Alton, Illinois. Turn left onto Lewis and Clark Blvd and travel to Hwy 100. Turn left at the traffic light onto Hwy 100. Follow remaining directions from Alton, IL. When Brussels Ferry is closed due to ice or high water you can travel north on Hwy 100 to Hardin, IL. Drive south on Illinois River Rd 14 miles from Hardin toward Brussels. Continue south through Brussels 3 miles until you see the sign for Two Rivers National Wildlife refuge headquarters and Swan Lake boat ramp. You can check the status of the Brussels Ferry on the Illinois Department of Transportation website.
From St. Charles, Missouri
Cross the Mississippi River on the Golden Eagle Ferry. After leaving the ferry, travel two miles on Ferry Road to the intersection with Mississippi River Road, then turn right. This road meanders through rolling hills for 3.4 miles to the intersection with Illinois River Road. Turn right onto Illinois River Road, travel two miles and turn left onto Hagen Road, continue on Hagen Road which turns into Wildlife Conservation Road, following signs to the refuge headquarters. There is a fee for the Golden Eagle Ferry, which is privately owned and on a daily schedule. When Golden Eagle Ferry is closed due to ice or high water you can either cross the Mississippi River at Alton, IL and follow the directions above or cross the Mississippi River by ferry at Winfield, MO. From the Winfield Ferry landing in Illinois, drive south on Mississippi River Rd to Schleeper Ln. At the intersection of Schleeper Ln and Illinois River Rd, turn south to Brussels, IL and continue through Brussels 3 miles until you see the sign for Two Rivers National Wildlife refuge headquarters and Swan Lake boat ramp. Note: The Winfield Ferry only runs when the Golden Eagle Ferry is not operating. You can check the ferry status on the Calhoun Ferry Company’s website.
There is no charge to visit.
Restrooms are available inside the visitor contact station and refuge headquarters.
Points of Interest
Let our staff at the visitor contact station help you plan your visit! This is a great starting point for visitors to become more familiar with the refuge and the wildlife that live here.
See thousands of geese, ducks and pelicans feeding in the fields and shallow wetlands of the Calhoun Division and on Swan Lake. Bald eagles use this area regularly during winter. Other birds enjoy the grassland habitat near the refuge visitor center. View an abundance of wildlife from the observation decks near the visitor center.
Calhoun division is 4,280 acres with 854 acres open to hunting and fishing – Calhoun East section (107 acres), and Yorkinut (747 acres) – each with its own unique regulations.
Portions of the Calhoun division are closed each fall to provide sanctuary for migrating birds.
Gilbert Lake Division
Gilbert Lake is a great place to seek solace and escape the demands of everyday life. Here you can enjoy bank fishing, bird watching and hiking the 3-mile gravel trail. The Gilbert Lake division's 687 acres are open to hunting - special regulations apply.
Travel the National Scenic Byway (Illinois State Highway 100) to Gilbert Lake, which is adjacent to Pere Marquette State Park in Jersey County, Illinois. An overlook/highway pull off is available along Hwy 100 between the Brussels Ferry and Pere Marquette State Park.
The water areas of Gilbert Lake division is closed each fall to boats to provide sanctuary for migratory birds.
Spend the day fishing, kayaking or canoeing in the Batchtown Division. Boat launches are located at the Prairie Pond unit and Gilead unit of the division. Both units offer quiet adventures in the backwaters of the Mississippi River. The Batchtown Division's 2,017 acres are open to hunting - special regulations apply.
The water area of Prairie Pond of the Batchtown Division is closed each fall to provide sanctuary for migratory birds.
Apple Creek Division
The Apple Creek Division, in Greene County, IL, differs from other areas of the refuge in that hunting is permitted on the whole division in accordance with Illinois state hunting seasons and regulations. Big game hunting, migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and sport fishing are all allowed on the Apple Creek Division.
Clarksville Island Division
Take a drive to the city of Clarksville, MO this winter to view bald eagles on the refuge's Clarksville Island. Park at the city boat ramp and watch eagles across the river catching fish and perching in the trees on the island. Direct access to the island is by boat only. The Clarksville Island division's 732 acres are open to hunting - special regulations apply.
Portage Island Division
This division is comprised of 230 acres, consisting of one large and three small islands in Pool 26 of the Mississippi River. This division can only be access by boat. These forested islands lie just northeast of Portage des Sioux, Missouri. Backwater and temporary wetlands on the big island are favored by waterfowl, wading birds and migratory songbirds. The Portage Island division's 230 acres are open to hunting - special regulations apply.
What To Do
If you have 15-minutes
- Stop by the visitor contact station and headquarters office: Open year-round from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays
- Stop at one of the informational kiosks located in the Calhoun and Gilbert Lake divisions
If you have one hour
- Hike the Prairie Adventure or Wildlife Haven trails located near the visitor contact station and headquarters office
- Hike the Duncan Farm trail in the Gilbert Lake division
If you have half a day or more
- Hike the moist soil unit, Swan Lake or Gilbert Lake levees
- Go fishing or paddling on Swan Lake, Gilbert Lake or Prairie Pond
- Go hunting on any of the refuge divisions
Know Before You Go
When visiting the refuge, it is important to plan ahead. Stop by the visitor contact station and headquarters office for maps and ask a refuge staff person to help you become oriented to the area. When hiking, bring drinking water, sunscreen and insect repellent, also let friends or family know where you are going when exploring alone.
During river flooding or freezing weather check this website or with Illinois Department of Transportation on the status of the Brussels Ferry.
Although a visit to the refuge anytime of the day is a great experience, wildlife activity is greater early morning and late afternoon. Binoculars are available for loan at the visitor contact station and headquarters office for use. There is a wildlife sighting board and refuge brochures available at the visitor contact station and headquarters office. As part of the refuge outdoor programming, archery, fishing and paddling gear are available for groups by reservation.
Visitors can participate in a variety of activities that include wildlife viewing, wildlife photography, hunting, fishing and paddling.
For a map of all trails at Two Rivers visit our map page.
Contact information: To report an emergency or ongoing violation call 911. If you encounter a wildlife crime not in progress, contact our Federal Wildlife Officer Ken Griffith at 309-535-2290.
If you see a down tree or obstacle on the trail, please call the refuge office at 618-883-2524, if our office is closed, please leave a detailed voicemail so we can quickly take care of it.
Dogs are welcome on our trails! We ask visitors to clean up solid waste and to always keep pets on a leash to avoid disturbing animals that rely on the refuge.
Rules and Policies
Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge offers many opportunities for public use including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education and interpretation. The refuge is open to public use during daylight hours only. Refuge hunting and fishing regulations generally follow applicable Illinois and Missouri state seasons and regulations - some special regulation apply. Contact the refuge headquarters for specific information.
To help meet the primary refuge purpose of providing valuable habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife the Swan Lake Unit of the Calhoun Division is closed from October 16 through December 31. The remaining portion of the Calhoun Division and all of the Batchtown and Gilbert Lake Divisions are open to foot traffic, but are closed to boats and vehicles, except in designated parking areas from October 16 through December 31. Contact the refuge headquarters for specific information.
The refuge allows hunting for migratory birds, upland game and big game (whitetail deer) on the Apple Creek, Batchtown, Clarksville Island, Gilbert Lake, Portage Island and in portions of the Calhoun Divisions - some special regulation apply. Contact the refuge headquarters for specific information.
Other important regulations:
- Off road vehicle use is prohibited
- Bicycling and hiking are allowed on refuge roads unless otherwise posted
- Berry and mushroom gathering are permitted for personal consumption only. These items shall not be used for any commercial use.
- Pets must be on a leash, except when used for the purpose of hunting where hunting is allowed
- Except for authorized hunting on the refuge or visitors possessing a valid Illinois concealed carry permit, firearms are only permitted when being transported in a motor vehicle and must be unloaded and either dismantled or cased in compliance with Illinois and Missouri firearms laws.
- Camping, trapping and the taking of turtles or frogs are prohibited on the refuge