Prior to the Department of Natural Resources purchasing tracts of land bordering the Illinois River in Fulton and Peoria counties during the 1980s, the Banner Marsh site was used for agricultural purposes and surfaced mined for coal.
Today, Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area serves as a 4,363-acre freshwater marsh. More than 200 water bodies, and its vast acres of grassland and shrubland, provide excellent habitat for migrating and local waterfowl, as well as numerous species of gamefish and other wildlife, while providing opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Rice Lake/Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Areas are both accessible by U.S. Rte. 24. Both sites are well signed with Banner Marsh providing four access points and Rice Lake one.
Traveling from the north, via I-55 to Bloomington-Normal, take I-74 west to 474 which will bypass Peoria to the south. Exit 474 onto U.S. Rte. 24 west, travel approximately 15 miles on U.S. Rte. 24 west to access Banner Marsh and approximately 20 miles to the entrance to Rice Lake.
Traveling from the south, you can access these sites by utilizing these same routes.
Traveling from the east or west, travelers may utilize U.S. Rte. 136 to IL Routes 78 and 97, one miles west of Havana. Travel north approximately five miles to U.S. Rte. 24, then approximately 12 miles to the Rice Lake entrance and 17 miles to the Banner Marsh entrance.