One of the major on-site archeological museums in the country, Dickson Mounds Museum also interprets the ecology of the Illinois River's Emiquon region. The site itself lies where two major ecosystems meet: The Upper Mississippi River-Illinois River Bottomlands, and the Western Forest-Prairie complex.
Turning onto the museum's entry road, it's easy to visualize this natural division, with the bottomlands situated due east and the forest-prairie complex lying to the west. Thus, nature-oriented visitors have the luxury of exploring both ecosystems from this single site.
The museum's observation deck provides an excellent starting point for visitors. From there, it's easy to note the habitat differences within the site. The oak-hickory forest creeps into the facility's parking area, and a newly restored prairie exists adjacent to the Eveland Village site to the south.
The museum grounds are substantial, and both forest and prairie plants and animals abound at the site. Inside the museum, exhibits explore 12,000 years of human experience in the Illinois River Valley, including complex societies of native peoples who inhabited the site all the way back to the Ice Age! The museum also offers a hands-on discovery center, resource center, a gift shop featuring works by Illinois artisans, and a coffee shop/snack bar.