Place

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site & Interpretive Center

A brown staircase rising up a grassy hill
The Cahokia Mounds

"Cahokia Mounds" by Northfielder is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Quick Facts

ATM/Cash Machine, Accessible Rooms, Automated Entrance, Automated External Defibrillator (AED), Baby Changing Station, Benches/Seating, Bicycle - Rack, Braille, Captioned Media, Cellular Signal, Electrical Outlet/Cell Phone Charging, Fire Extinguisher, First Aid Kit Available, Food/Drink - Snacks, Food/Drink - Vending Machine/Self Service, Gifts/Souvenirs/Books, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information, Information - Maps Available, Information - Ranger/Staff Member Present, Information Kiosk/Bulletin Board, Internet/WiFi Available, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Picnic Shelter/Pavilion, Picnic Table, Restroom, Restroom - Accessible, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Telephone, Theater/Auditorium, Toilet - Flush, Trash/Litter Receptacles, Water - Drinking/Potable, Wheelchair Accessible, Wheelchairs Available

Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Visitor Centers and Museums along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Ancient civilizations are perhaps the most fascinating groups of people to study throughout human history. It is jarring to imagine how people could co-exist in such large numbers during an era before modern medicine, advanced irrigation, and an overall staggering amount of danger that lurked everywhere back then. It is inspiring that people could put aside their differences and come together to build something greater than themselves when the contrary would have been much easier, safer, and simpler.

The settlement of Cahokia, in Southern Illinois fits this mold. From prehistory to the 1600s, the Cahokians were the most sophisticated and advanced society north of Mexico. With cities bustling with merchants, artisans, artists, priests and more- Cahokia was the premiere Native-American civilization. With their advanced knowledge of agriculture, science, and coexistence, the Cahokians managed to cultivate a civilization larger than London’s in the year 1250, this despite enduring the brutal winters and scorching summers of the Mississippi Valley. 

Not much remains of this once magnificent Native American cultural and economic hub. However, the Cahokians did an excellent job of leaving behind enough to keep their significant legacy and history intact. Visitors can tour the numerous trails offered on site where people can get a sense of what it may have felt like to live in ancient Cahokia. Bring your gym-shoes because you can even climb the 100 foot tall mounds created by the Cahokians all those years ago! From the top of one historic metropolis, you can see a modern one in S.T Louis- reminding visitors that our cities today would not exist if ancient civilizations didn’t put in the leg work.

In the interpretive center, visitors can learn from the myriad exhibits, videos, and knowledgeable volunteers. Visitors will learn everything from the day-to-day life of the Cahokians to what qualified the settlement as an urban-hub. With over 5.4 miles of trails, 100 foot tall mounds, and the engaging interpretive center-visitors will leave the mounds with a much greater understanding of the prehistoric city.

Admission to Cahokia Mounds is free to the general public, although donations of $7 per adult, $5 per senior, $2 per child, and $15 for families are suggested. Visits to the Interpretive Center are currently by appointment only. To schedule a tour or for current operating hours, call (618) 346-5160. 

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: May 27, 2021