Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois

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A mythical beast lives on, painted on a limestone cliff, in Alton, Illinois. This is the Legend of the Piasa Bird, who, according to myth, terrorized the Illini Native American tribes many moons ago.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2015

The Piasa Bird is a scary creature, with red eyes, the horns of a deer, outstretched wings, fearsome talons, a snarl of sharp teeth, and a long, scaled tail.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2015

According to the Legend of the Piasa Bird, it was a feared flying creature who would snatch up deer and other big animals for a meal, but it really had a taste for humans. Supposedly it was named “Piasa” by the local Illini Indians, a word that means “bird that devours men.” Time and time again, warriors faced off against the monstrous bird and, time and time again, failed.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2007

But then Chief Ouatoga had a dream that dictated how to rid themselves of the bird. He used himself as bait to lure the creature close enough for hidden warriors to attack with poisoned arrows. The creature then flung itself off the bluffs and into the Mississippi River, where it still lurks dead…or maybe alive.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2015

Whether that story is true or not is up for debate, but, regardless, a giant rendering of that giant bird-like monster is painted on the side of the limestone cliffs of what is now Alton, an Illinois roadside attraction that beckons drivers off the road.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2007

The first recorded documentation of the painting came in 1673 from explorers Marquette and Joliet but time and the elements eroded that away. Over the years, the painting has been recreated numerous times in different locations in town. Once in 1963, then a metal version at Norman’s Landing in 1983, and one on the bluffs in 1998 that has been repainted several times since. The current painting was designed by artist Dave Stevens who created the 48-foot long, 22-foot high mural.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2007

Located off of Route 100, along the Illinois Great River Road, it is still a site to see and worthy of a stop on an Illinois road trip.

Legend of the Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
2007

While visiting Alton, Illinois, be sure to check out another local legend: Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man. You can find the Robert Wadlow Statue, a replica of his chair, and his childhood home.


Legend of the Piasa Bird

Address: Wise St, Alton, IL
Cost: Free to See
Hours: Always Visible


Pin this Illinois roadside attraction:

The Legend of the Piasa Bird shows a painting of a mythical beast on a limestone cliff, in Alton, Illinois. Visit this Illinois roadside attraction on a A Great River Road road trip or an Alton vacation. A fun roadside oddity! #IllinoisRoadsideAttractions #IllinoisRoadsideAttraction #RoadsideAttractions #RoadsideAttraction #RoadTrip #IllinoisRoadTrip #IllinoisWeekendGetaways #IllinoisWithKids #Route66 #IllinoisRoute66 #IllinoisRoadTripItinerary #IllinoisRoadTripMap #IllinoisRoadTripTravel
The Legend of the Piasa Bird shows a painting of a mythical beast on a limestone cliff, in Alton, Illinois. Visit this Illinois roadside attraction on a A Great River Road road trip or an Alton vacation. A fun roadside oddity! #IllinoisRoadsideAttractions #IllinoisRoadsideAttraction #RoadsideAttractions #RoadsideAttraction #RoadTrip #IllinoisRoadTrip #IllinoisWeekendGetaways #IllinoisWithKids #Route66 #IllinoisRoute66 #IllinoisRoadTripItinerary #IllinoisRoadTripMap #IllinoisRoadTripTravel
The Legend of the Piasa Bird shows a painting of a mythical beast on a limestone cliff, in Alton, Illinois. Visit this Illinois roadside attraction on a A Great River Road road trip or an Alton vacation. A fun roadside oddity! #IllinoisRoadsideAttractions #IllinoisRoadsideAttraction #RoadsideAttractions #RoadsideAttraction #RoadTrip #IllinoisRoadTrip #IllinoisWeekendGetaways #IllinoisWithKids #Route66 #IllinoisRoute66 #IllinoisRoadTripItinerary #IllinoisRoadTripMap #IllinoisRoadTripTravel
The Legend of the Piasa Bird shows a painting of a mythical beast on a limestone cliff, in Alton, Illinois. Visit this Illinois roadside attraction on a A Great River Road road trip or an Alton vacation. A fun roadside oddity! #IllinoisRoadsideAttractions #IllinoisRoadsideAttraction #RoadsideAttractions #RoadsideAttraction #RoadTrip #IllinoisRoadTrip #IllinoisWeekendGetaways #IllinoisWithKids #Route66 #IllinoisRoute66 #IllinoisRoadTripItinerary #IllinoisRoadTripMap #IllinoisRoadTripTravel
Val

Val is the founder and head road tripper at Silly America. Having grown up near Berwyn's famed car kabob, The Spindle, and a restaurant with a cow on its roof, her fascination with roadside attractions started early. Today, Val has visited over 300 roadside attractions across 31 states and is constantly on the lookout for the next BIG thing!

Val also blogs about her life, travels, and cats on her personal blog, Choosing Figs.

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