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  Kaskaskia River - State Fish & Wildlife Area   

West-Central Region

10981 Conservation Road
Baldwin, IL 62217
Whitetail Deer fawn
Baldwin Lake History Natural Features
Boating Hunting Trails
Directions Illinois Caverns  
Fishing Illinois Caverns Virtual Tour  

The Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area is one of the largest state-owned and managed sites in Illinois. Located 35 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, the area comprises more than 20,000 acres and extends along the Kaskaskia River from Fayetteville to the Mississippi River in St. Clair, Monroe and Randolph counties. The Illinois Department of Transportation owns the land along the river and leases most of the land to the Department of Natural Resources to manage for fish, wildlife and other recreational activities. A few areas are managed by the Kaskaskia River Port District for industrial use and are not available for public use.

Baldwin Lake, a 2,018-acre reservoir built by Illinois Power Company, is contained within Kaskaskia River SFWA. This lake serves as a source of cooling water a nearby electric generating station. Baldwin Lake is open to the public for fishing and is a major part of the area’s waterfowl refuge.


Southwestern Illinois, which includes Kaskaskia River SFWA, has traditionally been rich in fish and wildlife resources and was occupied by both American Indians and early settlers to the state. The Kaskaskia River remained essentially unchanged until the late 1960s when it was modified by channelization to promote commercial development and navigation. This led to eventual state ownership of the site and increased the public use of the area.

Natural Features

Kaskaskia River SFWA possesses a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Water acres include not only the Kaskaskia River with its associated side channel and backwater areas (2,200 acres), but also Baldwin Lake (2,018 acres) and Peabody-River King State Fish and Wildlife Area (2,200 acres).

A land area of about 16,000 acres includes an extensive mixed bottomland forest comprised of pecan, soft maple, bur oak, pin oak, shellbark hickory and willow. Many cultivated and fallow fields, native grass patches, brushy areas and other "open" areas are interspersed with the stands of mature bottomland timber. Due to this great diversity of habitats, good wildlife populations exist on the site.


Fishing is the most popular activity on the Kaskaskia River. The area contains 36 miles of channelized river, plus additional oxbows, creeks and river bottom lakes for the anglers to enjoy.

Fishing for channel and flathead catfish is especially popular and offers both day and night angling opportunities. Other species include largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, carp and freshwater drum. All exist in good numbers and provide excellent fishing throughout the year. Fishing tournaments must be scheduled through the site office.


Concrete launch ramps are provided on the Kaskaskia River at Fayetteville, New Athens, on Highway 154 west of Baldwin, and at Evansville. "No-wake" zones exist near the ramps, industrial sites and at all of the oxbows. Boaters must operate their watercraft accordingly in these areas.

Weekends and holidays throughout the summer receive the most boat usage and boaters are urged to be extra safety conscious during this time. Boaters also should be aware of barge traffic on the river and at the lock and dam site at the mouth of the river.


Approximately 14,000 acres are available for hunting. Due to the amount of wooded acreage at Kaskaskia River SFWA, forest game species, such as squirrels and white-tailed deer, are very common and offer sportsmen many hours of hunting enjoyment. Extensive wetland areas associated with the river provide ample opportunities for waterfowl hunting. In addition, a public waterfowl hunting area, Doza Creek Waterfowl Management Area, exists in the area. Upland game, such as rabbits and quail, can be found in the open areas adjacent to the wooded portions of the site. Dove hunting is provided in several sunflower fields.

Hunter check stations are maintained in the area and access is primarily from the boat ramps and parking lots. A hunter fact sheet is available for additional information.  Hunter Fact Sheet


A 12-mile trail system exists on the site and is used by hunters, hikers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Trails are closed to vehicular traffic. Contact the site office for a trail brochure.


To reach the Site Headquarters from the south one would access State Hwy. 154 and go to the town of Baldwin. In Baldwin turn north on 5th Street and travel 4 miles, passing the Illinois Power generating facility. At the intersection of 5th Street and Risdon School Road, turn west (left) and travel one mile to the park entrance gate. Turn left at the gate and follow the black top road to the site office sign. The site office is 1/4 mile south of this sign.

To reach the Site Headquarters from the north one would access State Hwy. 13 and travel toward the village of New Athens. While on Hwy. 13 look for the "Baldwin Lake" Highway sign and turn south. Travel this blacktop road for 5 miles to the intersection of Risdon School Road and turn west (right). Travel one mile to the park entrance gate. Turn left at the gate and follow the black top road to the site office sign. The site office is 1/4 mile south of this sign.

  • 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 conflicts.
  • 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 Economic Opportunity, 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.

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