This leg of your journey is 327 miles, and extends from Chicago to Grafton, IL at the convergence of the
Mississippi River.  The most scenic route takes you from Lake Michigan, through the Chicago River Lock, and right
through downtown Chicago.

This river is the one we can
thank for the reason we have
a Great Loop and not a
"Great U-turn".
From Chicago, it is 327 miles down the Illinois River to Grafton, IL and the
convergence of the Mississippi River. Obviously, the most scenic (head turning) route takes
you from Lake Michigan right through downtown Chicago. In order to take this route however,
your vessel must clear a 17' fixed over-head bridge.
      If you can not clear 17', you will need to continue 11 miles south on Lake Michigan to
the Cal-Sag route. Both these routes merge about 3 miles upriver from that 19'1" bridge you
must go under.
      "That 19' 1" Bridge" -  Obviously, rainfall & water levels effect the height of this
bridge. In 2011, (draught year) the height of this 19' 1" RR bridge was measured at 20' 7"
above the water. We also heard of one Looper that flooded his bilge with enough water to
pass under.
But, we are not about to tell you that you can do the same - as the result of failure here, is
most likely to result in wintering your boat in Chicago.  
The Illinois River
Just past that 19' bridge, you will soon approach a very intimidating DANGER sign.
This sign indicates you are about to enter the U.S. Coast Guards' Electric Asian Carp Barrier
Field at Mile Marker 298.
The Electric Fish Barriers are designed to prevent fish from entering the Great
Lakes. The barriers are formed of electrodes that are secured to the bottom of the canal. A
DC pulse is emitted through the electrodes creating an electric field in the water. Fish
attempting to penetrate the electric field are exposed to electric shock, which prevents them
from swimming through the electrified area.
The USCG also mandates that "everyone" on deck must wear a Coast Guard
approved  Type 1 PFD (life jacket) when boating through this Fish Barrier.
Asian Carp - Asian Carp have become notorious for being easily frightened by boats and
personal watercraft, which causes them to leap very high from the water and numerous
boaters have been injured by them. Surprisingly, some of these injuries which include broken
arms and noses, have happened to boaters on live a-board size vessels.
When we were in Tennessee, TV News 2 reported Asian Carp were recently spotted in the
Cumberland River as well as on the Illinois, Ohio and Mississippi.
      For sure, once you are south of the Electric Fish Barriers, you will
encounter these fish.
When you do - be aware Asian carp are known to batter boaters and
even knock them into the water at the sound of a passing motor. They are voracious feeders
that can grow 4 feet long and weigh a 150 pounds.
When you reach Grafton, you will find yourself on your way, voyaging at last, on the
Mississippi River. . . You are now on your own adventure in the wake of Tom Sawyer & Huck
Finn. From here on cruising The Illinois River promises a welcome glance over the front of your
bow, for you are now headed into what is about to become the very best part of your adventure.
Peoria Transient Marina - there is a machine on the dock that accepts dollar bills, and
allows you to enter the amount of time you will spend. It then prints a receipt showing your
departure time. . .  The price is only a $1.00 an hour regardless the size of your boat.  (WOW!
we love that!).  Better still, Peoria has one of the best River Front on the river. Only problem is,
you have to get off your boat to enjoy it - so be sure and make this a stop & stay awhile!
      There are great Riverfront Restaurants only a hundred feet or so away. Starting with Joe's
Crab Shack, Damon's Steakhouse, Hooters, Cafe' 401, and the Rhythm Kitchen. So for $10,
instead of $40 or $50 for over-night dockage; We can then go spend our savings on some
great food and entertainment. .Additionally, one block from the dock, the Peoria Riverfront
Museum and theater is scheduled to open later this year.
Grafton Harbor Marina at Mile Marker 0 is the end of the road on the Illinois River. It is
also Mile 219 on the upper Mississippi River. This 200 slip marina has a nice general store,
gift shop, restaurant, and super shower and laundry facilities. It also has satellite TV, high
away from Hoppies Marina at Mile 158 on the Upper Mississippi River.
Asian carp in fact - threaten the closure of America's Great Loop.

See link: "Keeping the Dream A Live"
for information on Capt. John's Lobbying efforts to keep a recreational boating link
open between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
:: Cruising the Illinois River ::

Bald Eagles - We saw a few Bald Eagles cruising up the ICW along the Waccamaw River
near Wacca Wachie Marina. . . On the Illinois River, you won't see a few - you will see them by
the hundreds! So be sure to keep camera handy for this rare treat.
::   The Great Lakes   ::
::   The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway   ::
::   The Great Loop Route   ::
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
Cruising the Illinois River
That 19' Bridge we've been
telling you about
is at mile 300.5
Distance from Grafton:
Joliet, IL - 288 miles
Brandon Road Lock - 286
Interstate 55 Bridge - 277
Kankakee River - 273
Dresden Island Lock - 271 miles
Marseille Lock - 244 miles
Ottawa, IL - 239 miles
Peru, IL - 222 miles
Canal - 210 miles
Hennepin, IL - 207 miles
Chillicothe, IL - 180 miles
Peoria Lock  - 158 miles
Beardstown, IL - 89 miles
La Grange Lock - 80 miles
Naples, IL - 65 miles
Florence, IL - 55 miles
Hardin, IL - 21 miles
Riverdock Restaruant - 20.9
Grafton, IL - 0
Sunset Bay Marina - Mile marker 326.0
South Bend Marina - Mile marker 323
Riverdale Marina - Mile marker 319.9
Big Basin Marina - Mile marker 277.8
Three Rivers Yacht Club - Mile marker 275
Harborside Marina
City of Morris Visitors Dock - No Fuel
(free over-night docks)
Spring Brook Marina
Marseilles Lock & Dam - Mile marker  247.0
Snug Harbor Marina and Illinois State Park
Starved Rock Marina
Captains Cove Restaurant - Mile marker  233.4
Spring Valley Boat Club - Mile marker 218.5
Hennepin Village Visitor's Dock
Hennepin Marine - Mile marker 207.3
Henry Public Courtesy Docks
Henry Harbor Marina -
Mile maker 196.0
Lacon Marina - Mile marker 189.2
Hamms Holiday Harbor - Mile marker 178.6
Illinois Valley Yacht Club - Mile Marker: 167.9
Caution: (This is the last diesel stop until you
reach Grafton 167.9 miles from here)
Sodowski Boat Basin - Mile marker 167.5
Wharf Harbor Marina - Mile marker 165.3
East Port Marina - Mile marker 164
Detweiller Marina - Mile marker 163.7
Peoria Riverfront Park Marina - Mile marker
(Machine $1.00 per hour dock)
Tall TImbers Marina  
Illinois Mile marker: 120.3 - Notice: This is your last
fuel stop until you reach Port Charles Harbor
Marina (122 miles).
Illinios Riverdock Restaurant - No Fuel
Mile marker 20.9  Great Restaurant! Free on site
Browning Landing - No Fuel
Mile marker 97.2 - (free Municipal courtesy dock)
Beardstown Municipal Dock - No Fuel
(free over-night courtesy dock) - Mile marker 88.5
Grafton Harbor - Mile marker 0
NOTE: Grafton Harbor now has a new 200 slip
marina with a store, restaurant, and super shower
and laundry facilities.
On the Illinois River
there are seven (7)
locations that provide
free docking.
Saving Money Tips:
I anchor out a minimum
of 5 days a week,
sometimes more.
If you take advantage of
ALL the free docks
around the Loop - you
can stay approximately
60 nights free
at various free City
Docks, parks and
Municipal Marinas.