War Bluff Valley Sanctuary
The largest Illinois Audubon sanctuary, War Bluff Valley Sanctuary, is located in rural Pope County in southeastern Illinois. Adjoining the wilderness of the Shawnee National Forest, this nearly 500-acre sanctuary is home to a large variety of birds and mammals, as well as a great diversity of rare plants, including several species of native orchids. The purpose of the sanctuary is to protect the wildlife and habitat, and for research on populations and native species. War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a place for birds and other creatures. It is also for people – people who respect and love wildlife and the land.
The History of War Bluff Valley Sanctuary.
In prehistoric times the land that is now War Bluff Valley Sanctuary was mostly forested. Eventually settlers cleared much of the land for farming and grazing, leaving woodlands along creeks and steep slopes. The Illinois Audubon Society is allowing the natural regeneration of woodland habitat to reclaim the majority of the old farm land. There are several stages of succession taking place, offering the visitor an invaluable lesson in habitat regeneration.
Visiting War Bluff Valley Sanctuary
Several miles of maintained trails wind through the various habitats including upland and bottom land forest, shrub and regenerating forest, and open land. Simmons Creek is a beautiful rock bottom clear creek that runs through the middle of the property, with its many tributaries encountered throughout. Other features include 7 ponds, historic homestead sites, and interesting geology. Visitors are welcome from dawn to dusk daily, with guided tours possible with advance notice. Trails range in difficulty from easy to moderately difficult. Appropriate all-terrain footwear is essential where ever you go. Other than out-house accommodations at two locations within the sanctuary, there are no amenities — please bring your own food, water, etc.
War Bluff Valley Sanctuary Stewards
Stewardship of the Sanctuary rests with the Shawnee Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society. The second Saturday of every month at 10 AM starts War Bluff Stewardship Day where you get a chance to volunteer your time and talents while spending a day in the wild working and socializing with others who value nature as much as you do. For information on current activities call the Sanctuary at 618-683-2222 or send us an email.
Directions to War Bluff Valley Sanctuary
Take Hwy. 146 north from Golconda, Illinois 3.5 miles to Bushwhack Road; turn left, follow Bushwack Road 2.28 miles to the sanctuary entrance on right.