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Enjoy Illinois

Des Plaines Fish & Wildlife Area  

  wildflowers along the river
Northeast Region

24621 N. River Rd.
Wilmington, IL 60481
815.423.5326
E-mail


Boating Dog Training History
Camping Equestrian Trail Nature Preserve
Directions Fishing Picnicking
Disabled Access Hand Trap Range Shooting Sports

Update: The Class "C" Campground will be closed for the 2014 season.  The Boat Launch is closed until mid April weather permitting.

A tranquil setting, flowing rivers and natural prairie land - the Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area has it all! Visitors will delight in the abundance of wildlife, restful picnic areas and variety of sportfishing species. Farmland and woodland, prairie and swamp, still water and shoreline offer unlimited opportunities for nature lovers and sportsmen.

History

Prior to 1948 what is now called the Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area was owned by the federal government. The Illinois Department of Conservation acquired the site in 1948 and established its use as a recreation area. Additional land was accessed following the completion of Interstate 55 in the 1960s. From that time to 1975, the area was used primarily by hunters and unmanaged day use. The Division of Land Management took over the area in 1976 and extensive facility upgrades occurred. In recent years, more than 350,000 people visit annually Des Plaines - an area of more than 5,000 acres, including approximately 200 acres of water.

Picnicking

A restful break from hunting, fishing or hiking can be a special event. Picnickers can choose to lunch along the Kankakee River or under the large shelter on the banks of Milliken Lake. Both sites provide tables, stoves and water along with cooling shade trees and picturesque views. A playground area is present at Milliken Lake.

Fishing

Open water and ice fishing are popular events and productive! Milliken Lake, as well as several ponds and the river backwaters, provide panfish, catfish, and bass fishing. Milliken Lake is stocked with catchable trout in the spring. The Kankakee River borders the site on the south with 3 miles of shoreline providing access to boating enthusiasts and excellent walleye and northern pike fishing.

Camping

Designated camping areas are available for those wishing to stay overnight at the site. These are Class C (vehicular access, no showers) areas with graveled pads, water and pit toilets. The campground is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, from mid-April (weather permitting) to mid-October, closed the rest of the year.

Boating

A public boat launch with three paved ramps is available on the Kankakee River for boating on the river or its backwaters. Motors are limited to 10 horsepower or less on the backwaters, but no limits exist on the Kankakee River. No boating is allowed on Milliken Lake. Boat ramps are closed seasonally from the end of October for pheasant hunting season thru mid April (weather depending).

Equestrian Trail

A 12 mile trail is open from mid April thru October, weather permitting, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Hunting

Pheasant hunting is the most popular choice for sportsmen at Des Plaines, and the largest pheasant hunting (by permit only) facility in the state is located at the site. For variety the site also offers deer, rabbit, dove and coyote hunting. All hunters are required to have permits and check in at the site office. Waterfowl hunting is available at the nearby Will County Waterfowl Management Area, with hunting blinds allocated via drawings.

Nature Preserve

Eighty acres of the Des Plaines SFWA are dedicated as a nature preserve which contains many remnants of theIllinois' natural prairie. The preserve is managed to protect and perpetuate this prairie heritage for future generations. Visitors are encouraged to view this area, but are reminded that all plants and animals here are protected and are not to be disturbed in any way.

Hand Trap lessonHand Trap Range

Two hand trap ranges and an archery range are open to the public daily except during pheasant hunting season. Sportsmen are welcome to practice and hone their skills so they will be ready to go on opening day.

Shooting Sports

In addition to the two hand trap and archery ranges, Des Plaines hosts three wingshooting clinics and two Hunter Safety Classes annually. Wwingshooting clinics are held on the first weekend in June; the Hunters Safety Classes are available in June and August.

Dog Training

The Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area is well known for numerous field trials and dog training events held throughout the year. The plentiful open areas, swampy backwater areas and woodlands provide a perfect spot for all types of training. Whether you are training your animal or just being a spectator, these events can be a great way to spend a day or weekend outdoors.

Disabled Access

The following programs have disabled accessibility: hunting, fishing, camping, and picnicking.

Local Attractions

To enhance your trip to the area,

Directions

Located ten miles south of Joliet and 55 miles southwest of Chicago in Will County, the site is accessible from Interstate 55 at mile marker No. 241, Wilmington exit.

 

  • 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 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.

Parks & Recreation

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Springfield, IL 62702
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