Pere Marquette State Park is a nature lover's paradise. In addition to enjoying the spectacular views of the Illinois River and its backwaters from several points atop the bluffs, visitors can take advantage of a variety of year-round recreational opportunities, including horseback riding, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and boating.
Pere Marquette's Visitor Center has a 3-D map of the park and wealth of other displays and exhibits concerning the Illinois River, wildlife habitat, local history and geology.
Fall color drives are popular along the wooded ravines and riverside roadways at and near Pere Marquette. In January and February, the park is a hot-spot for bald eagle watching. For many years, the park has hosted tours of the river bluffs and woods for visitors to get an up-close look at wintering bald eagles in the hundreds along the Mississippi River and lower Illinois River near the park.
The Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail runs from Pere Marquette State Park to the City of Alton, approximately 20 miles south of the park. The entire trail is paved.
Pere Marquette State Park is located off of the Illinois River and near the Illinois River and Mississippi River confluence. This location allows ample opportunities for the visiting public to view our national bird. Have you ever seen our national bird, the bald eagle? Soaring on a 6 to 7 1/2 foot wing span, these birds are magnificent! It is not necessary to travel all the way to Canada to see these magnificent creatures because Pere Marquette is fortunate to play host to these seasonal visitors. Eagles may be spotted in the tree tops along the Illinois River from December to March. Bald Eagle Days Brochure
About 230 species of birds have been identified within, at the boundaries of, or flying over Pere Marquette State Park. A checklist has been prepared by local birders, in cooperation with the IDNR, and is available at the Visitor Center. Popular locations for bird watching are Stump Lake, in the river bottoms, and McAdams Peak and other overlooks along the park's scenic roadway.
Boating and Fishing
A wide variety of fish such as bluegill, carp, catfish, crappie, drum, largemouth bass and white bass, attract anglers to the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Launching ramps and ample parking provide access to the river, with courtesy docks available when weather conditions and river levels permit. Future plans include a full-service marina. The Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair is an annual youth fishing fair in June, and is a popular way to hook youngsters into fishing.
For visitors who prefer a rustic experience, Pere Marquette offers a wide range of camping opportunities:
- The Class A campground has 80 sites, two of which are handicap accessible. Sites have electrical hookups only, with a sanitary dump station, drinking water, and a shower building available on the grounds. Sites 2-30 are available for reservation from May through October. The nearby Class B tent camping area also has access to the shower building.
- Within the Class A campground, the park offers two Rent-A-Camp cabins.
- Popular among scout groups is the Youth Tent Camp Area, also known as Duncan Hill. This separate campground offers a picnic shelter and tables, pit-type toilets and drinking water.
- For large organized groups, Pere Marquette operates three Organized Group Camps. Camp Potawatomi accommodates 60 campers; Camp Piasa and Camp Ouatoga each accommodate 120. All three camps feature fully-equipped kitchens and dining rooms, lighted sleeping cabins with cots and mattresses, and restroom facilities with warm showers and flush toilets. Camps Piasa and Ouatoga also feature swimming pools, open seasonally.
Approximately 12 miles of marked trails provide scenic hiking to beginners and experienced hikers alike. Lush forests, towering bluffs, and an abundance of wildlife provide the perfect backdrop for your outing. Trail maps are available at the Visitor Center.
The park offers about 20 miles of equestrian trails with a parking area for trailers on Graham Hollow Road. The trails to the west of Graham Hollow are open year-round. The trails east of Graham Hollow will be closed during certain seasons of the year. These areas will be posted when closed.
Pere Marquette Riding Stables is open for trail rides every day except Tuesday, weather permitting, from May through October. Call 618-786-2156 for a reservation.
The 2,000-acre public hunting area located off Graham Hollow Road has good stands of mature oak and hickory timber, which provide excellent habitat for squirrel, deer and turkey. These game species may be hunted in accordance with statewide seasons and regulations, with the exception of squirrel season, which begins the day after Labor Day in the park. Another 1,344 acres is available for public hunting at Copperhead Hollow Wildlife Area, located on Nutwood Road, approximately 5 miles north of the park. The topography of this area varies from steep hills to bottomland floodplain (Otter Creek). The bottomland areas are mostly farm fields. The hills consist of mostly oak/hickory woodlands with some areas becoming dominated by maple. Deer, turkey, squirrel, raccoon, coyote and waterfowl may be hunted in this area according to statewide regulations. All hunters using the Public Hunting Areas at Graham Hollow Road or Copperhead Hollow must obtain a free permit at the Visitor Center.
Archery deer hunting is offered on an additional 3,000 acres in the three Organized Group Camp areas by special permit. Four 8-day seasons are offered, beginning in late October, (when the group camps close for the season). By random drawing, five hunters are selected for each season in each area. Drawings are held annually the first working day in April. Applications will be available by March 1st. Contact the Visitor Center for applications and information.
Spring turkey hunting also is available in the Organized Group Camp areas by special permit. To be considered for this hunt, hunters must use the statewide firearm turkey permit application, and apply for Pere Marquette Group Camp Area.
Plenty of picnic areas are available throughout the park, with tables, grills and trash containers provided. Three picnic shelters are available, and may be reserved.
Pere Marquette State Park offers highly featured limestone formations that experienced rock climbers find great for climbing. Rappelling and climbing at Pere Marquette State Park is permitted ONLY in the designated climbing area. A majority of the recreational rappelling and climbing routes at the park are bolted sport routes, with the exception of a few cracks, which are equipped with top anchors.