Besides Alaska, Illinois is home to the largest population of wintering bald eagles in the United States, but we are nearing the end of the prime time to see them. Better plan a road trip to one of these eagle hot spots now so you can witness the awesomeness for yourself.

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Once every couple of years, my family takes a short road trip to watch Bald Eagles. Lucky for us, Illinois is full of great places to do some Eagle watching, and sometimes you can see hundreds of beautiful eagles at once if you hit the right location.

Best Places to Watch Eagles in Illinois

When my family is on a mission to see some Bald Eagles, we usually head to one of the Lock & Damns along the Mississippi River, but that's not the only place where you can hit the eagle motherload. Here are 7 cities/towns where Enjoy Illinois says you are bound to spot the most eagles:

  1. Alton, Illinois- Alton offers 45-minute shuttle tours that take you to several different places where wintering eagles are usually spotted.
  2. Galena, Illinois - Bald Eagle Bus Tours are available during prime eagle viewing season that will take you to 5 different eagle wintering communities.
  3. Gladstone, Illinois- Lock & Dam 18 along the Mississippi River is located in Gladstone, and many say this is the best place to go to watch hundred of eagles at once.
  4. Grafton, Illinois - Pere Marquette State Park has awesome views of the Illinois River and several trails that take you to the best eagle-watching spots.
  5. Jonesboro, Illinois - The Union County Refuge just outside of Jonesboro is a popular spot for not only eagle, but other wildlife viewings as well.
  6. Oglesby, Illinois - Starved Rock State Park has several overlooks where can watch eagles fish in the Illinois River. (BTW, the best overlook for eagle watching is literally called Eagle Cliff Overlook which provides a great view of the river and all the eagles).
  7. Quincy, Illinois - Lock & Damn 21 is located here and is a historically popular place to view Bald Eagles in all their glory. Quincy also hosts Great River Eagle Days each year during the last week of January that celebrates the return of our National bird with plenty of fun (and up-close eagle viewing) for the entire family.

Which spot will you check out first? Just make sure you bundle up, grab your binoculars and camera, and most importantly, have fun!

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