⚑ NOTICE: The Interpretive Center is undergoing renovations and will be closed until further notice.
Monks Mound and the trails on the north side of Collinsville Road are still available for visitors to explore. Visitors are invited to download the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site’s augmented reality app – Cahokia AR Tour – on their smart phones to experience virtual tours of the Grand Plaza and Monks Mound. Check back for updates about the Interpretive Center’s reopening.
Teachers in Illinois schools (grades prekindergarten through 12) can apply for grant funds to visit this site on a field trip with their students. Click here for the details.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site preserves the central section of the largest prehistoric Native American city north of Mexico. Occupied from 700 to 1400, the city grew to cover 4,000 acres, with a population of between ten and twenty thousand at its peak around 1100. The site is dominated by the hundred-foot-tall Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric earthen mound in the Americas, and supported several multiple-mound satellite villages in St. louis, East St. Louis, Mitchell, Dupo, and Lebanon Emerald Mound. In 1965 Cahokia Mounds was designated a National Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1966 and in December 1982 was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Cahokia Mounds preserves 70 of the original 120 earthen mounds built by pre-historic Native Americans. Visitors may climb a stairway to the top of Monks Mound, where interpretive signs provide an explanation of the impressive view. Other physical features include a reconstructed stockade wall and “Woodhenge,” a circle of posts around a large central post from which the sunrise can be aligned to determine the season and time of year. Prairie grasses at several locations offer glimpses of native area vegetation.
The Interpretive Center houses museum exhibit galleries, a life-size village recreation, an orientation show theater, a public programming auditorium, museum shop, snack machines, public restrooms, staff offices, and a courtyard for educational programs. Programs at Cahokia Mounds are organized around the Interpretive Center. Exhibit galleries and an award-winning orientation show, “City of the Sun,” describe the Native Americans of the Mississippian cultural tradition who lived there as well as the site’s historic and archaeological significance. A “mural walk” booklet explaining the exhibit gallery murals is available for loan at the information desk. The Interpretive Center is accessible to persons with disabilities, as ae some of the trails.
The Interpretive Center is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, and closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (except Memorial Day and Labor Day when it is open). The grounds are open every day from 8 am to dusk. Guided tours are available during open hours at 10 and 2 depending on weather and staff. Self-guided tours are available year round through the free loan of a cassette player, the purchase of a guidebook in the Gift Shop for $1, or the rental of iPod Touch units for $3 through the Gift Shop. All of these include the three outside interpretive trails.
Along the Plaza, Monks Mound, and Woodhenge trails visitors can view some of the site’s most significant historic and archeological features. Cassette tapes and guidebooks to these trails may be obtained at the Interpretive Center. Both are available in several languages, and the guidebook is also available in Braille.
A 6.2-mile Nature/Culture Trail passes through more remote areas, which include various wetland, forest, and grassland environments, and the mile-long Prairie State Nature Walk features flora and fauna of the area. Booklets relating to these trails may be obtained at the Interpretive Center.
The site hosts a number of interpretive and educational events throughout the year. Contact the site for details. The Cahokia Mounds Museum Society support group funds the site programs through operation of the Interpretive Center Museum Shop, a membership program, and grants.
There are asphalt parking lots with designated accessible parking spaces. The concrete sidewalks connect at the front of the parking spaces via a truncated dome curb ramp.
The front entrance of the office is at ground level with a concrete path to the door. The rear of the building has ramps to enter and exit.
The site offers a wheelchair accessible 1-mile concrete trail, and a 1-mile crushed limestone trail.
Service animals are welcome at Cahokia Mounds with outdoor water fountains available (except during winter months). Owners are responsible for animal waste disposal.
The Visitor Center has a paved parking lot with designated accessible parking spaces, and a push button entrance door. There are accessible restrooms inside and benches for sitting. A visually impaired exhibit with tactile displays is available upon request as well as audio tours for iPod or cassette.
During weather-conducive months, an accessible guided tour is available on the 3/4-mile flat concrete trail. The tour takes approximately 45 minutes and benches are available.
The following are available for the visitor to the site:
For more information on the site and its programs visit: www.cahokiamounds.org