The fall season is one of the most beautiful times in Grafton as the leaves begin to turn along the bluffs with a rainbow of colors on one side and the tranquility of the majestic Mississippi River on the other. Peak viewing time usually begins about the third or fourth weekend of October (sometimes a little later). It's never too early to book your room for a romantic weekend as the rooms tend to go fast once the leaves start to turn.
Visitors come from near and far to take this relaxing 20-mile drive on The Great River Road extending from Alton on Hwy 100 to Grafton and beyond to the State of Illinois' largest state park, Pere Marquette State Park, just six miles past down town Grafton. The view can definitely be breathtaking, and the quiet drive just may lower your blood pressure.
The fall is also a time when the sun sets further to the south resulting in incredible sunsets that reflect off the mirror-like surface of the IL and MS rivers. The colors are absolutely amazing and are best enjoyed when you sit on one of Grafton's many outside decks sipping a glass of your favorite wine with someone special. Later you can warm-up next to one of the many nice blazing fire pits around town.
Sunsets aren't the only amazing thing you'll see as the fall season also marks the arrival of White Pelicans that migrate from the north to winter in and around the Grafton area. You'll see dozens to hundreds of these large birds with up to 9-foot wing spans flying in a well-choreographed formation before they land to swim in flocks as they fish in the rivers for their next meal.
Don't forget to visit Grafton after the leaves are all gone, and the Bald Eagles arrive, usually from December to March. As winter sets in to our north, the rivers freeze over making it impossible for the eagles to catch fish in the frozen rivers and lakes. The year-round barge traffic that ply the rivers in our area help to keep the ice broken up so that the eagles and white pelicans have a constant food source. Be sure to watch the large chunks of ice that flow downstream as the eagles often like to go for a free ride. Hint: the eagles like to sit in trees on the mid-river islands or along the bluffs, so they are close to their prey and can be identified by their white heads and tails. Be sure to bring your binoculars and maybe a camera.
No matter the season there is always something fun to see and do in Grafton. Be sure to check our Events page above. To stay well informed about what's happening in Grafton sign up for the free weekly email of events, bands and fun located on the bottom of the home page. We hope to see you soon.