Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge


(618) 997-3344

Map Directions

Things To Do


Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge's 44,000 acres of land and water contain a wide diversity of flora and fauna. Major habitat types on the refuge include hardwood forest, agricultural land, grazing units, brushland, wetlands, and lakes. The refuge provides significant resting areas for migratory birds utilizing the Mississippi Flyway. Wintering numbers of Canada Geese can peak at 200,000. A total of 700 plant species, 245 bird species, 33 mammal species, 63 fish species, and 44 reptile and amphibian species have been documented on the refuge. There is a wide spectrum of recreational opportunities availible, including hunting, camping, hiking and fishing or boating on three man-made lakes in the refuge. Present annual visitation is approximately 1,000,000 visitors.

Map of Crab Orchard NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 37.711801, -89.058609



  • Boating

    Crab Orchard Lake has a 150 feet No Wake Zone along the shoreline. Devils Kitchen Lake and Little Grassy Lake have a 10 horsepower limit. Boats may not be left overnight on the refuge.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Auto touring available.

  • Camping

    Campers at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge can choose between four campgrounds for their overnight accomodations. Little Grassy Lake, Blue Heron, Crab Orchard Lake and Devils Kitchen Lake Campground. The length of stay at a campsite at all four campgrounds is limited to 28 consecutive days. All camping units, equipment, and personal property must be removed from the campground for 48 hours at the end of any 28 consecutive days. Campers may return after the 48 hour time period. In 2011, the maximum camping period will be limited to 14 consecutive days.

  • Fishing

    All Refuge waters, except for Crab Orchard Lake, have a daily creel limit of 6 with a minimum 15" length limit for Largemouth Bass. Please see the Crab Orchard fishing brochure for additional information.

  • Hiking

    There are five established hiking trails - Rocky Bluff Trail, Grassy Creek Trail, Wild-Turkey Trail, Woodland Trail, and Harmony Trail, that are self-guided and allow Refuge visitors to experience Crab Orchard NWR at their own pace. The Woodland Trail is fully accessibility. Hikers need to assume individual responsibility for planning their trips and hiking safely. Before setting out on your hike, stop by the Visitor Center to obtain needed warnings and recommendations.

  • Historic Sites

    The land which is now protected as Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge was at one time a booming location for agriculture and logging. In 1936, the Resettlement Administration acquired 32,000 acres of this depleted land along the Crab Orchard Creek. This became knows as the Crab Orchard Creek Project. The original plans called for the construction of three lakes for recreational use and as an industrial water supply. At the start of World War II, the War Department purchased an additional 12,000 acres of land and established the Illinois Ordinance Plant. This land was of importance to the site of this plant because of the geographic location, water supply, and federal ownership of Crab Orchard Lake. Explosives were the prime product which for safety reasons caused different phases of the operation to be isolated from others. The Ordill plant was scattered on more than 20,000 acres of land. The final design of the Ordnance Plant circled the entire east end of Crab Orchard Lake. This development included 14 different areas which ranged from 40 to 640 or more acres in size. Roads, Railroads, telephone, power, water, and sewage lines joined the area. The plant had a peak wartime employment of 10,000 workers and a monthly production of 250,000 105 MM shells, 175,000 155 MM shells, and 70,150 500# bombs. Remnants of this usage can be seen during a visit today.

  • Hunting

    Only Illinois legal game species may be taken in the Open Area of the refuge during the state season. All other animals are protected. Hunting is prohibited within 50 yards of all designated public use facilities including, but not limited to, parking areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, marinas, boat ramps, public roads and established hiking trails. Please see the Crab Orchard hunting brochure for additional information.

Park Partners

Crab Orchard Recreation Association

This group operates two of the four campgrounds at the refuge.



Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located five miles west of Marion, Illinois, and five miles south of Herrin, Illinois, on State Route 148. From I-57 in Marion, go west on Illinois Route 13 about three miles to Illinois Route 148. Turn left (south) and go two and one-half miles. The refuge Visitor Information Center is located on the left.

Phone Numbers


(618) 997-3344