Come Out and Play in Southwest Illinois

Cool breezes, the sun sparkling high in a brilliant blue sky, the scent of river waters and adventures:

Mother Nature is telling you it’s time to come out and play in the Great Rivers & Routes region.

Grab your friends and family for your pick of adrenaline-pumping adventures along river bluffs and rivers. Or opt for more scenic enjoyment with quiet walks or bike rides along mighty rivers and the sweep of majestic prairies. Explore waterfalls hidden in local woodlands or pick up a pair of binoculars for some unrivaled bird watching. Unparalleled fall fun awaits.

Grafton Zipline Adventures

Test your tastes for heights and speed on the Grafton Zipline at Aerie’s Resort. Soar through the trees and hills on the river bluffs in the tree top canopy adventure. Hop across the bluffs traveling 45 miles per hour. Enjoy scenic views, rope bridges, trails and a surprise ending for a one-of-a-kind zip lining experience.

Climbing the river bluffs at Pere Marquette State Park. Photo by Nate Williams.

For even more thrills involving heights, bring your rock climbing gear to Pere Marquette State Park and scale the bluffs along the Illinois River. The bluffs have become a great outdoor climbing experience for novice through advanced climbers with more than 40 routes on highly featured limestone formations. The park, one of the largest in Illinois, also offers 12 miles of hiking trails winding through lush forests and climbing towering bluffs. Refresh at several scenic overlooks.

For a more relaxing view of Pere Marquette State Park, saddle up for a horseback ride at the Pere Marquette Riding Stables. Fifty-minute scenic rides are available traveling 1 ½ miles through the park. It wouldn’t be fall without a hay wagon ride. The stable offers hay rides complete with a bonfire, roasted marshmallows, and hot dogs.

Keep your feet, and wheels, planted firmly on the ground when you explore the hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails linking much of Madison, Jersey, and Montgomery counties.

Madison County Transit trails. Photo by Mike Cruz

Tunnels, bridges, rivers, forests and wide-open prairies highlight the diverse Madison County Transit Trails that range over 130 miles on both paved and limestone surfaces. Take a hike or longer bicycle ride with your buddies on one of nine separate trails that span on the western side of Illinois from Grafton to just north of St. Louis and east along Illinois Route 66 and New Douglas to St. Louis.

Get back to nature with epic bird watching at the Audubon Center at Riverlands. Perched on the banks of the Mississippi River in West Alton, the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is home to migrating birds along the Mississippi Flyway. Hike along one of five different trails and see how many birds you can spot. Another birder look out is the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge in Brussels. Access the refuge with the Brussels Free Ferry north of Grafton.

Kayaks at Lake Lou Yaeger, Litchfield. Photo by John Locus

Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield, a 1,357 recreational lake, is the place to be for fall boating, fishing, camping and horseback riding fun. The lake has no horsepower limitations which makes it an ideal destination for boaters. Kayaks and paddle boards are available for rent. Tent and trailer camping is available for equestrian visitors. There are a total of 25 equestrian campsites available along with 25 miles of horse-friendly trails.

Beaver Dam State Park, south of Carlinville, is a great escape for camping, boating, hiking, hunting and fishing. A free archery range is on-site at the park although archers must bring their own bow and arrows. The park’s 59-acre lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish and channel catfish. Enjoy a hike on the eight miles of trails circling the park lake, marsh and extending into the wooded areas of the park.

For more information and additional outdoor fun ideas, click here!