No matter the season or the weather, there is something captivating about covered bridges that makes travelers stop to admire the view and take a quick photo. Very few authentic covered bridges remain in Illinois. Here are eight publicly accessible ones that serve as attractions along the road, and travelers can even drive through some of them.
Thompson Mill Covered Bridge
1375 E. 225 N. Road, Cowden in Shelby County
Equipped with a small, rustic parking area, visitors can walk across the one-lane bridge. It is not open to motor traffic.
Fun fact: The Thompson Mill Covered Bridge is the narrowest covered bridge in Illinois. It is only 10 feet 7 inches wide. Built in 1868, it is one of five covered bridges in Illinois on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cumberland County Covered Bridge
The spacious parking area and viewing deck allow travelers to take in the bridge and read the informational signs. It is a single-lane bridge that allows for traffic to cross one at a time. It also has walkways on each side for pedestrians.
Fun fact: Stretching 192 feet across the Embarras River, the Cumberland County Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the state. While it was built to replicate the original Jackson Covered Bridge from the 1800s, this bridge was also designed to carry modern vehicles, including semi-trailer trucks. It is also an official Art and Architecture Site along the Historic National Road.
Henderson County Covered Bridge
A nice parking and picnic area is located alongside the bridge. It is closed to motor traffic but open to pedestrians.
Fun fact: Built in 1866, the Henderson County Covered Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. It also goes by several names, including the Oquawka Wagon Bridge (named after the nearby town) and the Allaman Bridge (named after Jacob Allaman, who originally built it).
Wolf Covered Bridge
The roadside parking is limited and there is an unofficial path leading down to Spoon River. The bridge is one lane and open to motor vehicles. Foot traffic is not recommended.
(Not so) fun fact: The original Wolf Covered Bridge was on the National Register of Historic Places but was removed after being destroyed by fire in 1994. The current bridge is a replica that was constructed in 1999.
Captain Swift Covered Bridge
The bridge is equipped with a nice parking area on one side. An unofficial pathway leads down to Big Bureau Creek for a different view of the bridge. Its two lanes allow motorists to drive in both directions, so foot traffic isn’t recommended.
Fun fact: Built in 2006, the Captain Swift Covered Bridge is the youngest publicly accessible covered bridge in the state.
Red Covered Bridge
Visitors can enjoy the bridge on both sides, with a parking area on one side and a picnic area on the other. A pathway leads down to the creek on the parking side. It is a one-lane bridge and not recommended for foot traffic.
Fun fact: Built in 1863, the Red Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge on the National Register of Historic Places in Illinois that is open to motor traffic.
Sugar Creek Covered Bridge
Although it has limited parking, the bridge is in a park equipped with a picnic area and trails. The bridge is closed to motor vehicles, but visitors are welcome to walk across it.
Fun fact: Sources disagree on the original construction of the Sugar Creek Covered Bridge. Whether it was built in 1827 or 1880, it is still one of five covered bridges in Illinois listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While it could be the oldest of its kind in Illinois, it is the shortest publicly accessible covered bridge in the state, spanning 58 feet across Sugar Creek.
Mary’s River Covered Bridge
A parking, picnic and recreation area is located alongside the bridge. It is closed to motor traffic and temporarily closed to pedestrians.
(Not so) fun fact: Built in 1854, this historic landmark and only covered bridge in southern Illinois suffered major damage following severe weather on July 1, 2023. The roof was ripped off during the storm, and the bridge has been closed to pedestrians since.