an area that includes 15 wildlife management areas and 13 public access
areas spanning more than 24,000 acres and scattered along 75 miles of
two major rivers. Add to this awe-inspiring bluffs that tower over the river
valley, providing breathtaking views, and you begin to get some idea of
what awaits you at the Mississippi River State Fish and Wildlife Area.
As its name implies,
the area lies within Mississippi River Valley, at Navigation Pools 25 and 26, and
includes portions of both the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The total
project area consists of 24,386 acres of General Plan lands. Of this total,
16,875 acres are actively managed for wetland habitat enhancement and
The Mississippi River
Area's main emphasis is wetland management, with waterfowl as the primary
species of concern. Hunters, fishermen, boaters and birdwatchers can enjoy
the beauty of the area, yet there is ample opportunity for access to civilization
just a few miles away.
A drive along the
scenic Great River Road leads through Grafton, past Elsah, a quaint 19th
century village, and on to Alton, with many antique stores and other accommodations.
A ride on the Brussels Ferry takes you across the Illinois River and into
Calhoun County where apple orchards and roadside markets await. There
truly is something for every type of visitor to the area.
The Mississippi River
Area has a rich history. Evidence of millions of years of geological change
can be seen throughout, including 4,000 - 5,000 feet of sedimentary
rock. The bluffs between Alton and Grafton are only a tiny fraction of
the thousands of feet of rock extending below the surface.
The Ice Age saw the
advancement and regression of four glaciers. The last glacier, the Wisconsin,
did not enter the area, but the melting ice widened the river valleys
and contributed silt, sand and gravels to the two river systems. The melding
of two such major river systems strongly influenced both ancient and modern
identified four cultural periods within the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
They are: Paleo (prior to 5000 B.C.); Eastern Archaic (5000 to 1000 B.C.);
Woodland (2000 B.C. to 1400 A.D.), and the Mississippian (800 to 1700 A.D.).
The Mississippian was strongly influenced by the Woodland Culture as evidenced
by large populated sites, intensive agriculture and religious cults.
Europeans began exploring
the area in the mid-18th century. By 1824, the importance of the Mississippi
River as a trade and transportation route had been established, and Congress
appropriated $75,000 to remove dead trees (snags) from the river.
funds in 1907 to create a 6-foot navigation channel, but existing technology
was not adequate. The 1927 River and Harbors Act authorized study of the
Mississippi between Minneapolis and the Missouri River. The outcome of
this study was a 1930 authorization to build 24 low-head dams with locks
between Minneapolis and Alton.
In 1944, Congress
approved the Flood Control Act, which authorized the development of recreational
facilities on public access areas. The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1946 provided
for establishment of a General Plan and Cooperative Agreement to use the
navigation channel project lands and waters for fish and wildlife conservation
The majority of MRA
lands and waters are referred to as General Plan lands, under management
by the state of Illinois in accordance with a 1961 General Plan and 1963
cooperative agreement with the Department of the Interior. These lands
are managed as fish and wildlife areas, while day use and access are under
a separate lease agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In 1937, the Federal
Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, better known as the Pittman-Robertson
Act, imposed an 11 percent manufacturer's tax on sporting arms and ammunition,
which is used to fund wildlife restoration and management activities.
The Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act, known as the Dingell-Johnson
Act, was passed in 1950 and created a 10 percent manufacturer's tax on
fishing tackle, which is used to fund fish restoration and management
efforts. The MRA has participated in these federal programs since 1958.
Hunter Fact Sheet | Mississippi
River Pools 21, 22, & 24 Hunter Fact Sheet |
within the Mississippi River Area are specifically managed for waterfowl,
with 348 blind sites allocated by public drawing for three-year periods.
Waterfowl check stations are operated on the five more intensively-used
Forest game hunting
is popular in most areas. Upland game is available, but seldom productive,
due to annual flooding.
River Area | Batchtown
Point | Diamond
Island | Fuller Lake | Glades | Helmbold | Hurricane Crader Island Michael | Illinois
River | Illinois River Mortland Island |Michael to Kampsville | Mississippi River | Mississippi River Clarksville | Mortland Island | Piasa
Island | Red's
Landing | Red's Landing Boundaries | Red's Landing Walk-in | Riprap Landing
| Rip Rap Landing Walk-in | Stump
Anglers are welcome,
but certain areas are restricted during waterfowl season. These areas
are clearly posted each year.
Boating along the
Mississippi and Illinois rivers provides many opportunities for relaxing,
sunning, enjoying the scenic shoreline and bluffs, watching birds and viewing
the majesty of these great river systems. Small boats and canoe operators might
better appreciate the shelter and quiet beauty that can be found in the
Nearly 40 miles of
the mighty Mississippi River are available via the Piasa Creek Access
Area and Royal Landing. The Glades, Godar Diamond, Hadley Landing
and Michael Landing provide access along 35 miles of the Illinois River.
All of these areas are contained in Navigation Pool 26.
Access to 33 miles of Navigation Pool 25 are above Winfield Dam
(Lock and Dam 25), Cockrell Hollow, Red's Landing and Riprap Landing. Other
Major Boat Access Ramps
Picnickers will appreciate the
pristine beauty of the area at picnic areas scattered throughout the area..
Camping is strictly
prohibited in the entire MRA, but is available at Pere
Marquette State Park, just north of Grafton on the Great River Road.
- 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 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.