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Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 950 N 27th Rd, Starved Rock Lock and Dam, Ottawa, IL 61350
Phone Number:
+1 815-667-4054
09:00 - 17:00
Open now
See all hours
Sun - Sat 09:00 - 17:00

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 55 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 37
  • 14
    Very good
  • 4
  • 0
  • 0
Good for a quick visit

Just good for a quick stop. Nice little museum of the locks and nature. Staff was very knowledgable about the river, traffic, and the history of the canal.

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 18 October 2016
Barrington, Illinois
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55 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 55: English reviews
Barrington, Illinois
Level Contributor
739 reviews
274 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 258 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 October 2016

Just good for a quick stop. Nice little museum of the locks and nature. Staff was very knowledgable about the river, traffic, and the history of the canal.

1 Thank JohntheLast
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 October 2016

A fun place to visit. During the season bald eagles are seen in nearby trees. Pelicans also abound near the dam. At various times you can witness a barge going through the locks. Good place for a family to spend a little time.

1 Thank Robert A
Cicero, Illinois
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 October 2016

The view from the observation deck is incredible. The Corps of Engineers guy was really well versed, as he should be, on everything I asked about the Illinois waterway system. This is well worth a detour for an hour of education and entertainment.

Thank nicholask610
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 October 2016 via mobile

A visit to the Illinois Waterway is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. We were fortunate to have a barge come in during the visit, and I spent the entire time talking with a gentleman who was working on the barge. He was able to explain so much about travel on the Waterway and along the Mississippi.... More 

Thank Barbara H
Chicago, Illinois
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 September 2016

Stopped here while staying at Starved Rock Lodge. Great place to watch Bald Eagles in winter. If you go during Audubon season (Jan/Feb), there will be folks set up with high power binoculars & telescopes. Great eagle viewing.

Thank handyman4chicago
Kevin E, Park Ranger at Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, responded to this review

Glad you were able to stop by and looking forward to seeing you this winter. We are currently keeping a watch on those American White Pelicans too! More 

Greenville, Illinois
Level Contributor
38 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 September 2016

Thrilled to find out this place was still open to the public after a disappointing 2015 on the Mississippi River with a few of their locks off-limits now. You can get SO close to the locking vessels and with the long indoor/outdoor observation deck, it's an all weather show. Unfortunately the hour we had to spend, there were no locking... More 

1 Thank Becky C
Kevin E, Supervisory Park Ranger at Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, responded to this review

Thanks for the review and glad you visited us. We sure enjoy the best view of Starved Rock from our side of the river! More 

Manhattan, Illinois
Level Contributor
143 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 July 2016

Fascinating to catch how barges get loaded into and moved out of the lock, hearing the water fill up and then drain as the lock gates close and open. The fish seem to love it--can see them jumping. Barge crew is busy, then not, then busy again. Nice display inside building, gives one a look at a tugboat cabin.

1 Thank roadtripmajik
Illinois River Valley
Level Contributor
24 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 July 2016

Staff is very informative, and they all seem to enjoy telling visitors about the eagles and the waterway. I have been there several times, with and without children, and have always had a good experience. If it is cold up North, the bald eagles will be here feeding at the dam, and it's fun to watch them.

1 Thank curious_diner
Park Ridge, Illinois
Level Contributor
12 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 July 2016

We visited this center, the person in charge was very helpful and knowledgeable. we did see the lowering of a barge which was very interesting. Good time for visit

1 Thank loisrex
Ottawa, Illinois
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 July 2016

This is a good place to stop and learn about the river and the area. You can park outside and watch the barges and boats go through the dam from your car, or go into the visitor center and watch the locks from above. The children will love it, and inside there is a great deal to learn.

1 Thank vicki s

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  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?