Eagle watching in Southwest Illinois

The crisp cool air and open waters of the Mississippi Flyway are a refuge for eagles, trumpeter swans and visitors alike in Alton, Illinois.

Just 25 miles north of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, the Great Rivers & Routes region has become a winter home to the eagles.

Before dawn breaks on the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, the eagles begin to soar over the Mississippi River. It is here along the byway that the great rivers meet – the Mississippi, Missouri and the Illinois – as a point of convergence for wildlife from all over the United States. From late December through mid-February, every day is eagle day. Driving along the byway from Alton to Grafton to Pere Marquette, visitors can experience several great viewing spots and see anywhere between 25 and 150 eagles on their journeys.

The Great Rivers & Routes Eagle Passport will guide visitors to the hot spots, offer options for shopping and dining, list deals, allow visitors to share photos and provide information on upcoming events and festivals. Download the passport here!

Eagle Count

(Updated weekly. Numbers as of Jan. 26, 2021)

  • Audubon Center at Riverlands, West Alton: 5-6
  • National Great Rivers Museum: 3-4
  • Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge, Grafton: N/A
  • Grafton Visitor Center: 2 eagles
  • Great River Road between Grafton and Alton: 3-4 eagles
  • Pere Marquette State Park: 3 at Gilbert Lake; 1 at Pere Marquette Harbor
  • Grafton to Pere Marquette State Park Visitor Center: 3 eagles
  • Brussels Ferry: 1 eagle
  • Loading Dock, Grafton: 3 eagles
  • Lewis & Clark State Historic Site, Hartford: 1 eagle

Trumpeter Swans

  • Audubon Center at Riverlands: 24
  • Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge: N/A

For more information on eagle watching, download our eagle watching guide or call (800) 258-6645 to request a guide.