9:00 - 41.5 miles / an hour 22 minutes - 10:22
Illinois Waterway Visitor Center
Through exhibits and a theater, the visitor center interprets building and maintaining the Illinois Waterway system and the history of water transportation in Illinois. Beginning with the Native American canoe, exhibits highlight the flatboat, canal boat, and steamboat eras, and conclude with modern transportation. The center provides up-close views of river barges and other watercraft as they "lock through" the Starved Rock Lock & Dam and panoramic River view.
10:52 - 16.8 miles / 33 minutes - 11:26
Starved Rock State Park
The park focuses around 18 canyons, cut by the young post-Pleistocene Illinois River. The prairies, forests, nature trails, and river overlooks are magnificent. Many guided hikes, field trips, and nature programs take place in the habitats and visitor center. Purchased by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in 1911, the 2,816-acre park is one of the premier publicly-held natural areas in Illinois.
12:11 - 11.4 miles / 22 minutes - 12:34
Cameron/Billsbach Unit of the Illinois River Complex
The Cameron-Billsbach Unit is 1,708 acres in size and is located in Marshall County, between Sparland and Henry, Illinois. The Unit is bisected by the Illinois River creating two separate areas - Cameron Unit and Billsbach Unit. They extend from river mile 192 to 195 and are 64 miles upriver from the refuge headquarters. The purpose of the unit is to serve as an inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Sparland Conservation Area is adjacent to the south boundary of the Cameron Unit whereas their Duck Ranch Area is adjacent to the north boundary of the Billsbach Unit.
The 636-acre Cameron Unit is located on the west side of the Illinois River and is composed of bottomland forest, old fields, and backwater habitat (Weis and Meridian Lakes). The late Judge Glen J. Cameron of Pekin, Illinois, donated the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on May 17, 1958.
The 1,072 acre Billsbach Unit is located on the east side of the Illinois River and joins the center portion of Billsbach Lake. The Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy purchased the land from the Armour Club and then sold the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on December 21, 1981 for $30,000. The most prominent feature of the unit is Billsbach Lake.
12:34 - 12.5 miles / 24 minutes - 12:59
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge
Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge was established December 29, 1993, with the purchase of its first 284 acres. About 2,200 acres have been acquired to date. The refuge is being assembled to protect, restore, and manage migratory bird, fish, and resident wildlife habitat in the Illinois River Valley, while providing for increased public recreation and educational opportunities. When complete, it will contain 11,122 acres.
12:59 - 2.7 miles / 5 minutes - 13:04
Hennepin and Hopper Lakes Restoration
This restored wetland site offers an impressive array of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies, as well as emergent aquatic plants and prairie grasses and wildflowers. Wonderful birding opportunities occur year round, peaking during Spring and Fall migration periods when tens of thousands of ducks and other species can be viewed from the observation tower.
13:34 - 40.0 miles / an hour 19 minutes - 14:54
East Peoria Riverfront Greenway
East Peoria's Riverfront Greenway project is a 1.8-mile walking/hiking trail along the east bank of the Illinois River. This trail project is congruent with Fondulac Park District's planned phase II of the River Trail of Illinois project. It includes a 1200-foot section of raised boardwalk equipped with 3 separate observation decks, which overlook multiple wetlands.
15:14 - 57.0 miles / an hour 53 minutes - 17:08
This site, sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, is home to several varieties of wildlife. Look on newly flooded lands for sandpipers and other shorebirds, especially during spring and fall migration periods. Likewise, ducks and other waterfowl make use of the refuge and preserve during the winter months. Perhaps the best introduction to the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge would include a hike down the Frank C. Bellrose Nature Trail. There, not only birds and butterflies, but also mammals such as Striped Skunk, raccoon, opossum, and river otter may be spotted.
18:08 - 17.2 miles / 34 minutes - 18:42
Banner Marsh Fish And Wildlife Area
This 4,363-acre site, composed primarily of freshwater marshes and shallow lakes, boasts over 200 individual water bodies. Banner Marsh serves as a major holding area for migrating waterfowl and songbirds which are found in the scrubby areas along the site's edges. These include the American Robin, Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat, and American Goldfinch. Look for the shy American Bittern and its diminutive cousin, the Least Bittern, amidst cattail colonies.
19:02 - 80.3 miles / 2 hours 40 minutes - 10:43
Illinois River Road - end