Providing a stop-over area for migrating waterfowl, Rice Lake and the surrounding areas provide an excellent opportunity for wildlife observation. Because of an extensive habitat management program, this Fulton County backwater wetland area is used by thousands of ducks and geese as they move through central Illinois during the changing seasons. Visitors may also sight he American bald eagle, which uses the bottomland timber for roosting. Fishing is a favorite pastime at the area with catches of largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, bullhead buffalo and carp. However, with seasonal fluctuations of the water levels, fishing may be limited during certain times of the year. Duck hunting and archery deer hunting also provide opportunities for the outdoor sportsman.
The initial purchase of land, for Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area along the Illinois River was in 1945. These original 2,370 acres were designated as a refuge for migratory waterfowl with a portion to serve the hunters who contributed largely toward the land purchase. Camping facilities were added and renovated in 1970. The Department of Conservation purchased two of the neighboring waterfowl clubs, consisting of 2,952 acres, to provide increased mid-migration habitat. This current 5,660-acre area includes Big Lake, Slim Lake, Goose Lake, Pond Lily Lake, Lock Pond and the Copperas Creek Management Unit. Because the area is subject to extensive flooding, water management projects have been established to provide water control. Each year the lake is drawn down and aerially seeded with high quality moist soil plants to provide food to attract migrating waterfowl.
For a break from fishing or a long nature walk, visitors can take advantage of a shady picnic area featuring tables, drinking water and restrooms.
If you have time for an overnight stay, tent and trailer camping areas are available. Thirty-two of the sites are graveled and have electricity hookups.
Many Illinois anglers list Rice Lake as one of the best lakes in the area for its large variety of game fish. Fifteen miles of shoreline provide plenty of space, or bring your boat and try your luck offshore. A paved boat ramp is located at the site office. From Oct. 1 to April 1, boat traffic is limited to authorized boats only. This helps limit the disturbance of migrating waterfowl and endangered species using the area.
Hunter Fact Sheet | Big Lake (Walk In) Hunter Fact Sheet | Rice Lake / Cooperas CreekHunter Fact Sheet | Double T Fact Sheet
Because of its wetland acreage and river backwater, Rice Lake is a hunters paradise. During waterfowl hunting season, the area is open for hunting with a daily draw for walk-in hunters. Archery deer hunting also is available.
Rice Lake/Banner Marsh State Fish & Wildlife Areas are both accessible by US Rte 24. Both sites are well signed with Banner Marsh providing four access points and Rice Lake one.
Traveling from the north, via I-55 to Bloomington-Normal, take I-74 west to 474 which will bypass Peoria to the south. Exit 474 onto US Rte 24 west, travel approximately 15 miles on US Rte 24 west to access Banner Marsh and approximately 20 miles to the entrance to Rice Lake.
Traveling from the south, you can access these sites by utilizing these same routes. Traveling from the east or west, travelers may utilize US Rte 136 to state routes 78 & 97, one miles west of Havana. Travel north approximately five miles to US Rte 24, then approximately 12 miles to the Rice Lake entrance and 17 miles to the Banner Marsh entrance.
- While groups of 25 or
more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required
to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling
- At least one responsible
adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on
leashes at all times.
- Actions by nature can
result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park
office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your
stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.