Crashing an Eagle Watching in St. Louis Tour

Bald Eagle in Flight

Ever since my family moved to St. Louis, I have wanted to see the bald eagles along the Mississippi River. When my stay in St. Louis coincided with the Bald Eagles returning to the Great Rivers Meeting during the winter months, I was in luck. There was an advert for the Bald Eagle Days at Pere Marquette State Park, and I made plans to show up that day. I drove up to Pere Marquette State Park Visitor’s Center and saw many cars lining up in the parking lot. Walking into the center, I realized that everyone was already outside, so I went back into my car to get in line. I didn’t realize until a lot later that day that I just crashed the Bald Eagle watching in St. Louis tour.

Bald Eagle in Flight
Eagles Nest Photo Op at Pere Marquette Visitor's Center

Pere Marquette State Park Marina

Bald Eagle perched in a tree

The first stop on the tour is to drive across Highway 100 to the marina. The row of cars parked, and I took out my camera and tripod to see what I would capture. The guide told us to look into the tops of trees around the marina for a white color patch. This is one area that you can usually see quite a few bald eagles, and he was right. In the endless brown branches of the trees, I saw a beautiful bald eagle just sitting there. I opened up my tripod and got shooting. The eagles were perched in the trees right by the river to watch for food; then, they would soar and dive-bomb to catch the fish. It was amazing to watch these majestic birds for a bit.

Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge – Gilbert Lake Division

Eagle Watching in St. Louis Tour

Near the Pere Marquette State Park on the right side of Highway 100 is an offshoot of the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. This section of the tour is not part of the self-guided bald eagle tour but part of the guided version. We drove our cars down the narrow one-lane track by the Illinois River to the end, where there is a loop for cars to turn around. After parking, we walked through a muddy track to a flat section, and there, our guide pointed out a massive eagle’s nest. And low and behold, a bald eagle was popping its head out of the nest. So cool!

Train of Cars on a trail in the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

Brussels Ferry

Brussels Ferry

Our next stop on the tour was to take a ride on the Brussels Ferry. The ferry runs 24/7 and is free to cross over the Illinois River. While you’re crossing look toward the tops of the trees and for Bald Eagles soaring in the sky. You might even see a Trumpeter Swan or the American white pelican nearby! Immediately after exiting the ferry, turn left and drive slowly down the road. Stop at
the “One lane bridge” sign and turn around, and hopefully, you’ll see some eagles flying or perched in the trees. Once back at the ferry, we turned left onto the Illinois River Road and drove to Hagen Road.

Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

Three eagles sitting on tree branches

The Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge lies in the floodplain between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. This natural habitat is home to bald eagles in the winter, along with many swans. A viewing deck is a great place to hang out and set up your tripod to get photos of the eagles perched in the trees or the swans in the lakes.

Swans at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge

Lunchtime with the Group at Mel’s Riverdock Restaurant

And here is where I figured out that I wasn’t supposed to be on the tour. I’m still laughing about this. The group all sat together and started to put in the food orders. I sat down with the group and started chatting with the other people on the tour. They were all mentioning that they had put in their reservations months ago for this tour. Oops! The good thing is that many of the tour-goers had broken off at the Brussels Ferry, so for me sliding into the group wasn’t a big deal at all since it was a full-day driving tour, which I also didn’t know. I still can’t believe that I did this.

Godar Diamond Island

An eagles nest through a telescope

We turned into the parking area of this area and drove in a bit. This turned out to be more of a four-wheeling adventure as the trails were over-run with water. I’m still surprised that some vehicles didn’t get stuck. In this area, we saw a couple of eagle’s nests, however, they were empty when I was there.

Kampsville Ferry

Kampsville Ferry

Our last stop before we headed back to Pere Marquette State Park, was by the boat ramp. Right across the Illinois River up into the tops of the trees is a Bald Eagle’s nest. It is probably the closest we ever got to a nest. If you see eagles in it, don’t disturb them!


Even though I wasn’t supposed to be on this eagle-watching tour, I’m glad that I was. I saw so many Bald Eagles on this day. When I got back home from the full-day tour, my mom and I had a big laugh where I forgot to read the part Reservations are Required. Note to self…read the fine print!

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