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Activities at Des Plaines SFWA

A restful break from hunting, fishing or hiking can be a special event. Picnickers can choose to lunch along the Kankakee River, with cooling shade trees and picturesque views.

Fishing is popular at Des Plaines SFWA. Several ponds and the river backwaters provide panfish, catfish, and bass fishing. The Kankakee River borders the site on the south with 3 miles of shoreline providing access to boating enthusiasts and excellent walleye and northern pike fishing.

A public boat launch with three paved ramps is available on the Kankakee River for boating on the river or its backwaters. Motors are limited to 10 horsepower or less on the backwaters, but no limits exist on the Kankakee River. No boating is allowed on Milliken Lake. Boat ramps are closed seasonally from the end of October for pheasant hunting season thru mid-April (weather depending).

Equestrian Trail
A 12-mile trail is open from mid-April thru October (weather permitting) from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Pheasant hunting is the most popular choice for sportsmen and women at Des Plaines SFWA, and the largest pheasant hunting (by permit only) facility in the state is located at the site. For variety, the site also offers deer, rabbit, dove and coyote hunting. All hunters are required to have permits and check in at the site office. Waterfowl hunting is available at the nearby Will County Waterfowl Management Area, with hunting blinds allocated via drawings.  Check the Hunter Fact Sheets online.

Nature Preserve
Eighty acres of the Des Plaines SFWA are dedicated as a nature preserve which contains many remnants of the Illinois' natural prairie. The preserve is managed to protect and perpetuate this prairie heritage for future generations. Visitors are encouraged to view this area, but are reminded that all plants and animals within the nature preserve are protected and are not to be disturbed in any way.

Hand Trap Range
Two hand trap ranges and an archery range are open to the public daily except during pheasant hunting season. Sportsmen and women are welcome to practice and hone their skills.

Shooting Sports
In addition to the two hand trap and archery ranges, Des Plaines hosts wingshooting clinics and Hunter Safety Classes annually.  Check the schedules on the IDNR website at

Dog Training
Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area is well known for numerous field trials and dog training events held throughout the year. The plentiful open areas, swampy backwater areas and woodlands provide a perfect spot for all types of training. Whether you are training your animal or just being a spectator, these events can be a great way to spend a day or weekend outdoors.

Disabled Access
The following programs have access for people with disabilities: hunting, fishing, camping, and picnicking.

Prior to 1948 what is now called the Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area was owned by the federal government. The Illinois Department of Conservation acquired the site in 1948 and established its use as a recreation area. Additional land was accessed following the completion of Interstate 55 in the 1960s. From that time to 1975, the area was used primarily by hunters and unmanaged day use. The Division of Land Management took over the area in 1976 and extensive facility upgrades occurred.

Located ten miles south of Joliet and 55 miles southwest of Chicago in Will County, the site is accessible from Interstate 55 at mile marker No. 241, Wilmington exit.
• 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.