Recreation by Land, Water & Air
The Peoria Area's setting along the banks of the Illinois River offers a variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking, camping, fishing, boating, bird watching and more! Whether you're looking to take a quiet stroll through 5 acres of landscaped gardens at George L. Luthy Botanical Garden, the perfect lake for casting your line, or simply the chance to hear the chatter of a Black-Capped Chickadee, the Peoria Area has it all!
Camping is one of the things the Midwest does best!
The cool Spring nights, drops of dew on the grass in the early morning and sunsets to starlight that fill the sky as far as the eyes can see - get out of the city and experience nature first hand at the local campgrounds! You will have to do a little hiking to get to the Rock Island State Park campground. Nestled within a forest trail you will find cozy camping spots ideal for groups and picnics. Jubilee College State Park is 3,200 acres with lots of areas to explore. The campground is surrounded by hiking and biking trails, beautiful scenery and natural wildlife. Over 160 species of birds are present, along with deer, rabbit, squirrel, fox, coyote, raccoon, while the creek may offer glimpses of mink, muskrat and beaver. Don't leave any food behind, the raccoons are known to invade and conquer! Fulton County Camping & Recreation Area, located between Lewistown and St. David, is 440-acres of land and water dedicated to recreational use. Besides camping, the site also hosts fishing, hiking and water birding. Also in Fulton County, the Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area comprised of 5,660 acres of land is enjoyed for not only camping but also birding, and according to the locals, is one of the greatest fishing spots around. Marshall County's Great Oaks Camp and Peoria County's Camp Wokanda offer cabins and primitive camping options, as well as a central lodge and dining hall. Several hiking trails through bluff woodlands, creeks and old-hickory savannas surround the campsites. Look for specialty birds such as Pileated and Redheaded woodpeckers, Orioles and Bald Eagles.
It could be Crappie, Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Muskie or Bass! The Illinois River and surrounding lakes are filled with great fishing. Just last month on March 15, Matt of Pekin caught a 19-inch smallmouth bass at Powerton Lake while fishing a deep-diving crankbait near a deeper creek channel. The cooler mornings bring in the wall hangers! Launch your boat into Banner Marsh Fish and Wildlife Area, this 4,363-acre complex of freshwater marshes, deepwater habitats and shallow lakes boasts some of Illinois' most sought after fishing. Banner serves as a major holding ground for migrating birds as well. From waterfowl, Osprey, Bald Eagle and exotic Mute Swan to songbirds such as Gray Catbird and Common Yellowthroat. The Nature Conservancy Emiquon Preserve is 10,360 acres. The area is used for public waterfowl and game hunting, fishing, boating and birding. Look for Red-eared Slider Turtles basking on logs and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies. Rice Lake may have the best fishing, but Peoria Area fishermen will tell you that Canton Lake's fish are the best tasting in the region. The lake hosts Bluegill, Crappie, Muskie, Largemouth Bass, and Catfish, offers a public campground and a boat launch. (Please be sure to have a valid Illinois Fishing License when fishing in the Peoria Area.)
It's a bird, it's a plane...no, it's a bird!
The Illinois River, surrounding lakes and their adjacent habitats are home to a variety of diverse communities of plants and wildlife. Exploring the area's natural wonders can be a relaxing yet adventurous sport. Bird watching or Birding, is the observation and study of birds. The Peoria Area region offers many different environments within our parks and wildlife areas that attract a multitude of different species. Dirksen Park in Tazwell County is an important site for deep-forest breeding neotropical songbirds such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Yellow-throated Warbler and more. Bureau County offers several prime birding areas: The Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park's specialty is Wild Turkey and waterfowl. The state wildlife areas established at Donnelly Depue State Fish and Wildlife Area & Complex contain a variety of wetland habitats that are critical to migratory waterfowl as well. The Mautino State Fish and Wildlife Area comprised of forests, lakes and grasslands is the perfect habitat for water-associated bitterns, rails and red-winged Blackbirds and the hill prairie grasses and wildflowers furnish the habitat for Eastern Meadowlark and several sparrow species.
These are just a few of the hot spots for recreational camping, fishing and birding in the Peoria Area. For more detailed information please visit the related links below or contact the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-747-0302.
http://www.dnr.state.il.us/ the official site of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
http://www.illinoisriverroad.org/ the official site of the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
http://www.ifishillinois.org/ the "fishing website for Illinois waters"