America's Great Loop
© 1993 - 2019
This leg of your journey is 327 miles, and extends from Chicago to Grafton, IL at the convergence of the
Mississippi River.  The most scenic route takes you from Lake Michigan, through the Chicago River Lock, and
right through downtown Chicago.
From Chicago, it is 327 miles down the Illinois River to Grafton, IL and the convergence of the Mississippi River.
Obviously, the most scenic (head turning) route takes you from Lake Michigan right through downtown Chicago (above). In order to
take this route however,
your vessel must clear a 17' fixed over-head bridge.

If you can not clear 17', you will need to continue 11 miles south on Lake Michigan to the Cal-Sag route. Both these routes merge
about 3 miles upriver from that 19'1" bridge you must go under.
"That 19' 1" Bridge" -  Obviously, rainfall & water levels effect the height of this bridge. In 2011, (draught year) the height of this
19' 1" RR bridge was measured at 20' 7" above the water. We also heard of one Looper that flooded his bilge with enough water to
pass under.
But, we are not about to tell you that you can do the same - as the result of failure here, is most likely to result in wintering your boat in
Just past that 19' bridge, you will soon approach a very intimidating DANGER sign. This sign indicates you are about to enter the U.S. Coast
Guards' Electric Asian Carp Barrier Field at Mile Marker 298.

The Electric Fish Barriers are designed to prevent fish from entering the Great Lakes. The barriers are formed of electrodes that are
secured to the bottom of the canal. A DC pulse is emitted through the electrodes creating an electric field in the water. Fish attempting to penetrate
the electric field are exposed to electric shock, which prevents them from swimming through the electrified area.
The USCG also mandates that "everyone" on deck must wear a Coast Guard approved  Type 1 PFD (life jacket) when
boating through this Fish Barrier.
Asian Carp - Asian Carp have become notorious for being easily frightened by boats and personal watercraft, which causes them to leap very high
from the water and numerous boaters have been injured by them. Surprisingly, some of these injuries which include broken arms and noses, have
happened to boaters on live a-board size vessels.
When we were in Tennessee, TV News 2 reported Asian Carp were recently spotted in the Cumberland River as well as on the Illinois, Ohio and
The Asian carp in fact, threaten the very closure of America's Great Loop.
For sure, once you are south of the Electric Fish Barriers, you will encounter these fish. When you do - be aware Asian carp are
known to batter boaters and even knock them into the water at the sound of a passing motor. They are voracious feeders that can grow 4 feet long
and weigh a 150 pounds.
The good news is, that as soon as you make your way past the USCG Fish Barrier, you will soon find yourself on your way, voyaging at last, on
your own adventure in the wake of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn down the Mighty Mississippi. The next 297 miles of the Illinois River promises a
welcome glance toward what's in front of your bow, for you are now headed into what is about to become the very best part of your adventure.
In addition to the information above on the FIsh Barrier and the Asian Carp, we've known for some time about many Marinas that simply
don't show up in anyone's guidebooks. One such Marina is the
Peoria Transient Marina. The one guidebook that mentioned it, simply offered the
comment "no services available". On the contrary. . .

What they should have said was that there is a machine on the dock that accepts dollar bills, and allows you to enter the amount of time you will
spend. It then prints a receipt showing your departure time. . .  The price is only a $1.00 an hour regardless the size of your boat.  (WOW! we love
that!).  Better still, Peoria has one of the best River Fronts on the Great Loop. Only problem is, you have to get off your boat to enjoy it. There are
great Riverfront Restaurants only a hundred feet or so away. Starting with Joe's Crab Shack, Damon's Steakhouse, Hooters, Cafe' 401, and the
Rhythm Kitchen. So for $10, instead of $40 or $50 for over-night dockage; We can then go spend our savings on some great food and entertainment.
.Additionally, one block from the dock, the Peoria Riverfront Museum and theater is scheduled to open later this year.
Asian Carp - spooked by boat motor.
More on the Illinois River - click next
:: Cruising the Illinois River ::                                                                      - Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -                                                                      - Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -                                                                      - Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -                                                                      - Cruising America's Great Loop - Once Around Is Not Enough -

Just when you think it couldn't possibly get better. . . It does!
Cruising down the Illinois River you are about to enter "America's
Heartland". Timed right and assuming you are cruising the Great
Loop by the recommended seasons; the Heartland is about to
welcome you to a most brilliant display of colors in a giant
kaleidescope, compliments of Mother Nature.
Fall is the very best time for cruising the Heartland, and don't
worry. Once you reach this areas the locks and waterways are
open all year long. There is no rush and if ever you needed a
reason to take your boat to Nashville, Chattanooga or Knoxville;
you've got one now, and there is no better time to do it.
Heading up the Cumberland you will round a bend after bend that
will give you spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Knoxville to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is only 35 miles, and a
rental car will put you in the heart of The Smoky Mountain
National Forest in less than an hour. A nights stay in Gatlinburg
promises to be well worth the time & money. Seeing the Smoky
Mountains from it's their highest peak is one thing, and pending a
day strolling along and window shopping in Gatlinburg is another -
both are simply an amazing experience.
The first time I did this, I planned to stay one night in Gatlinburg
and stayed two. The next time I planned to stay two nights and
stayed three. This last time I stayed four nights and the next time I
plan to stay all week. It is a wonderful place to visit with great
restaurants and lots of stuff to see and do.
It makes for a wonderful place to spend Thanksgiving!   
Romancing the Rivers
"America's Heartland Boating"
-  Capt John
2019 - Newest - Greatest - most up to date!