Get Outside and Experience Illinois Rivers

Illinois has 120,00 miles of beautiful rivers waiting for you to visit.  Illinois’ rivers and streams offer a diversity of landscape and wildlife, offering new sights and experiences for those who explore them.

Our River Experiences flyers list numerous outdoor recreation opportunities to enjoy, giving you plenty of reasons to get outside!

The National Park Service has a list of significant Illinois streams for their biological, geological, and recreational value. You can make plans to visit many of these streams, and enjoy Illinois’ natural beauty. Whether you like bird watching, fishing, canoeing, or simply visiting beautiful scenery, our streams will provide you with an unforgettable experience.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has more information on hiking trail access, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor opportunities.

Canoe & Kayak

There are many outfitters to rent canoes and kayaks listed in our River Experience Sheets for a trip on the rivers of Illinois.

For information on canoeing or kayaking rentals visit the Illinois Paddling Council. Paddling clubs are also a great way to get started or maintain your skills with other paddling enthusiasts. There are clubs throughout the state offering social, recreations, and instructional opportunities. Get paddling!


Illinois Department of Natural Resources Fishing Page allows you to purchase Illinois fishing licenses online, and provides good information on fishing in Illinois. Will also provide links for boating licenses and hunting.

The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance (ISA) is an organization of catch and release anglers helping to preserve the smallmouth bass and its habitat through education and conservation, and are a resource for learning more on the latest fishing techniques.

The Environmental Defense Fund identifies the seafood that is the healthiest for us and the best for the environment.

Fish Watch also has is an easy database to search for sustainable seafood.

Wildlife Habitat

Rivers, streams, wetlands and lakes are home to many species of wildlife. The land connected to these surface waters, the riparian zones or buffer zones which connects water to land, is home to many species as well as vital to the health of a waterway.

Illinois is home to an amazing array of wildlife from river bottom to tree top and sky. The following links connect you to valuable resources and tools you can use to learn more about the wildlife in Illinois who depend on our waterways.

Fish: Visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ fish guide for a comprehensive list (with photos) of Illinois’ fishes.

Birds: Visit Illinios Ornighological Society for tons of information on the birds of Illinois.

Other Animals: For information on other types of animals that currently live and used to live in Illinois explore the University of Illinois Extension.

River Safety

River Gauge