Imagine 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 public recreation.
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.
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 backwater lakes.
Anglers are welcome, but certain areas are restricted during waterfowl season. These areas are clearly posted each year.
Most areas 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 areas. Forest game hunting is popular in most areas. Upland game is available, but seldom productive, due to annual flooding.
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.