paradise, this 8,000-acre park in Jersey County is famous for the exceptional beauty
of its fall colors and for its wintering bald eagles. In
addition to enjoying the spectacular view 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
Pere Marquette's Visitor
Center, opened in October 1997, welcomes you with a three-dimensional
map of the park and wealth of other displays and
exhibits concerning the Illinois River, wildlife habitat, local history
The history of Pere
Marquette State Park centers around that of the Illinois River. The forces
that formed the river can be traced to ancient glaciers that pushed their
way down over most of Illinois, but stopped just short of the park land.
In the path of the glaciers and their meltwaters, a rich network of streams
and rivers were formed, and tons of soil and bedrock were ground to dust
which rose and blew up against the hillsides. These ancient layers of
wind-blown soil, called loess (pronounced "less") can be seen
along the roads and trails of Pere Marquette.
Gradual climate changes
over thousands of years made the region an ideal environment for the prairie
grasses and plants which eventually covered two-thirds of Illinois. Deciduous
forest, dominated by oak and hickory, held their ground along rivers,
streams and upland hills protected from prairie fires.
Throughout the hills, ravines and prairies, native American people hunted
game, gathered food and later made homes. Archaeologists describe six
native American cultures common to this region. Evidence of their presence has been found in the form of fragments of pottery, spear points
and planting tools. Burial mounds also are distributed throughout the
park, including one atop McAdams Peak.
When Europeans began to explore the Illinois country, most of the Native
Americans they met were members of the Illini tribe. The first of these
explorers, in 1673, was a group led by Louis Joliet, a cartographer, and
Pere (Father) Jacques Marquette, a french Jesuit missionary. Marquette
and Joliet, accompanied by French voyageurs, paddled down the Mississippi
River in search of a passage to the Pacific Ocean. On the Mississippi
Bluffs, they encountered something which has become a local legend: "we
saw . . two painted monsters which at first made us afraid and upon which
the boldest savages dare not long rest their eyes." They learned
that the creature was part bird, with the face of a man, scales like a
fish, horns like a deer, a long black tail. The creature was called Piasa.
A representation of the Piasa Bird is still maintained in paint on the
bluffs about twenty miles from the park.
Learning from the Native Americans that the Mississippi River emptied
into the Gulf of Mexico, Marquette and Joliet turned back, returning by
way of the Illinois River and stopping near what is now Pere Marquette
State Park. A large stone cross east of the park entrance commemorates
their historic landing here.
Generations later, local civic groups sought to preserve this land by
the river as a state park. They raised money and were successful in persuading
the state to match their funds for the purchase of the land in 1931. The
newly created state park was to be called Piasa Bluffs. By popular demand,
it was soon renamed Pere Marquette State Park in honor of the adventurous
There is much to enjoy in the surrounding area, including sensational scenery, award-winning wineries, golf courses, restaurants, water activities, sporting events, antique shopping, historical museums, and more. The park is located along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Great River Road, a section that has been designated as the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. We are just an hour from the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Visit any of the following web sites for up-to-date information on local events and attractions:
Pere Marquette Lodge
and Conference Center was originally built in the 1930s
by the Civilian Conservation Corps, but has been expanded and updated
in recent years. Today, native stone and rustic timbers of the original
Lodge blend with the new to provide first class accommodations in
an historical setting. The mammoth stone fireplace in the lobby
soars to a roof height of 50 feet, and is said to weigh 700 tons.
There are 50 spacious
guest rooms and 22 stone guest cabin rooms. Among the facilities available
are a cocktail lounge, gift shop, indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, saunas,
game room and tennis court.
Pere Marquette Lodge
provides elegant dining, with a Sunday brunch that draws people from Missouri
as well as Illinois. The dining room seats 150 people and offers a choice
of family style dining or selections from the menu.
The 2,900 square-foot
conference center has banquet facilities to accommodate 300, and a comprehensive
selection of audio/visual equipment. The center breaks into four separate
For more information
or reservations, write Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center, Route
PO Box 429, Grafton, IL 62037, or call (618) 786-2331, fax (618) 786-3498,
| Campground MAP
If you prefer a more
rustic experience, Pere Marquette offers a wide range of camping opportunities:
- Our 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
- Within the Class
A campground, the park offers two Rent-A-Camp cabins Rent-A-Camp
- 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 will 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.
Reservations for campsites, cabins, and picnic shelters may be made at www.reserveamerica.com
Reservations for Organized Group Camps are accepted at the park visitor center. Organized Group Camp Reservation Form
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. A fee is required to reserve shelters. Reservations can be made at www.reserveamerica.com
A wide variety
of fish such as bluegill, carp, catfish, crappie, drum, largemouth
bass, and white bass, attract anglers to the Illinois and Mississippi
River. 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.
Two Rivers Fishing Fair
Hiking | Trail MAP
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
The sites interpretive postition is vacant at this time. However, the visitor's center has educational display rooms available for self education. The video room is outfitted with three video segments, which is available tot he public during the visitor's center hours of operation.. Eagle
tours are offered from late December to late February. For more information,
contact the Visitor Center.
The park offers
about 20 miles of equestrian trails with a parking area for your
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.
Riding stables is open for trail rides every day except Tuesday,
weather permitting, from May through October. Please call 618/786-2156
for a reservation.
The Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail runs from Pere Marquette State Park to the City of Alton,
approximately 20 miles. 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. The visitor's center is equiped to show live video footage of an active eagle's nest.
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 Department of Natural Resources, as 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 scenic drive through the park.
The 2,000 acre public hunting area located off Graham Hollow Road has good standsof mature oak and hickory timber, which provide
excellent habitat for squirrel, deer, and turkey. These game species may
be hunted in this area 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 Cooperhead Hollow must obtain a free permit at the Visitor Center. Pere Marquette Hunter
Fact Sheet | Copperhead Hollow Hunter Fact Sheet
Hunting is offered on an additional 3,000 acres in the three
Group Camp areas by special permit. Four 8-day seasons are offered, beginning in late October,
group camps close for the season). By random drawing, 5 hunters
are selected for each season in each area. The drawing for this
hunt is held the first working day in April each year. Applications
will be available by March 1st. Contact the Visitor Center for
and information. Archery
Spring Turkey Hunting
is also 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.
For further information, contact the Visitor Center, or the IDNR Permit
Office at (217) 782-7305.
Videos and Audio
View the video below to learn more about Pere Marquette State Park. There is also an "Audio Only" option if you would like to just listen or save the file to take on your MP3 player.
The Park by the River - Pere Marquette State Park
The Park by the River - Pere Marquette State Park
- While groups
of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities,
they are required to register in advance with the site office
to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
- At least
one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must
be kept on leashes at all times.
- Actions by
nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please
call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
- We hope you
enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more
information on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department
of Commerce and Community Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information
(217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844