Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, we are open on a limited basis. Please check our Hours of Operation page for the schedule and then refer to Latest Updates for any adjustments to the schedule. Our limited opening in 2021 means some historic buildings are not open. For the buildings that are open, you need to make a reservation for a guided tour.
Scheduled guided tours are currently the only way to enter the various historic sites.
If you visited Nauvoo in the past and were accustomed to entering individual sites on your own schedule, you were still greeted by missionaries who provided a tour. The difference this year is that tours need to be scheduled so we can maintain distancing and COVID safety protocols. The experience will be very much the same but less crowded!
If tour availability does not fit your schedule, we encourage you to try the Virtual Tours.
Some of the rooms in our tours are relatively small and cannot accommodate large groups. If you have more than 12 people, we ask that you divide your group into smaller ones and take separate tours. This also makes it more likely that you will be able to join a tour if some spots are already taken. If you have extenuating circumstances, please discuss it with the missionaries when you check in at the Visitors’ Center.
There is plenty to do instead of or between your reserved experiences! Be sure to obtain a brochure map at the Visitors’ Center to be able to find each location. You can also access the map digitally in the Visitors’ Center. Look for the interactive tables. Or download the map from this website.
Here is a brief list of some of the activities you can do without a reservation (numbers correspond to the map key):
- Browse the displays in the Visitors’ Center (01)
- Stroll around the Women’s Garden adjacent to the Visitors’ Center (01)
- Visit the grounds of the Nauvoo Temple (05) and the statue of Hyrum and Joseph Smith on horseback
- See the memorial statue in the Pioneer Cemetery two miles east of Historic Nauvoo (09)
- Learn about stonecutting by reading signboards at the Jones Pavilion (12)
- Walk around the gardens next to the Lyon Drug Store (22)
- Look out over one of the stone quarries used in building the original Nauvoo temple (26)
- Walk the Trail of Hope and read journal excerpts from the pioneers (36)
- Stop at the Pioneer Memorial to remember those who traveled the Mormon Trail (37)
- Catch a short outdoor performance by the Nauvoo Brass Band
- Visit the Carthage Jail Visitors’ Center to watch a film (tours of the actual jail must be scheduled in advance)
- View the inside of most historic buildings by scanning the QR code out front (or visit the 360° Walk-throughs page on this website)
- Learn about each historic home by scrolling through the Image Galleries on this website
- Visit the Smith Family Cemetery owned by the Community of Christ. The rest of the Joseph Smith Historic Site is closed for 2021, but the cemetery remains open to short, quiet visits. Please respect the property and observe posted notices. Stay on sidewalks.
- Watch a sunset at the end of Parley Street where the Latter-day Saints began their journey west
- Look for eagles nesting nearby or flying along the river
Nauvoo is a small community with no public transportation. Visitors need to drive at least a few miles to reach Nauvoo from an airport, bus depot, or train station. Nauvoo is generally easy to find with most GPS devices, but you are advised to review any mapped route before following it.
Carthage is about 23 miles from Nauvoo, a 30-minute drive. There is no public transportation between the two cities, so visitors need personal vehicles to get there. There are a few suggested routes; study the map in advance as cellular service on some stretches may be unreliable.
Nauvoo Historic Sites does not charge any entry fees. All tours, shows, and activities are offered free of charge.
The Joseph Smith Historic Site, owned and operated by the Community of Christ, asks visitors who take their guided tour to pay a site preservation fee to help them maintain their historic buildings. The Joseph Smith Historic Site will reopen in 2022. Until then, the Community of Christ welcomes you to walk the streets and visit the Smith family cemetery. If you do this, please treat the cemetery with reverence and take any extended discussions to another location.
Nauvoo Historic Sites does not operate any restaurants or hotels.
You will find information about where to eat or stay on Nauvoo’s city website.
Lodging is available in Nauvoo and also in nearby cities like Keokuk and Fort Madison, Iowa. Please consult available online tourism sites for more information.
Some buildings are wheelchair accessible. Restrooms are accessible. However, to maintain the historical accuracy of the restored sites, we are unable to provide physical access to every venue. This website offers 360° Walk-throughs for the most popular buildings. You can also schedule a Virtual Tour over Zoom for these sites.
No. Private merchants along Mulholland Drive and elsewhere in Nauvoo offer many souvenirs for sale. For more information, see the city website.
In the summer months, you may encounter mosquitoes and chiggers as you walk through the area. We recommend you have mosquito repellant on hand. You should also prepare for hot weather by having water, sunblock, hats, or whatever you feel is needed to protect you from the sun and heat. Summer storms may interrupt outdoor shows and other events. Heat advisories might also interrupt activities such as wagon and carriage rides or summer shows.
Wooded areas may harbor poison ivy or other plant irritants. Please remain on established paths and keep children under close supervision.
Large groups need to plan in advance and be willing to divide into groups of 12 or fewer for tours and wagon rides. All spots must be reserved in advance. We cannot accommodate large groups that arrive without reservations. Seats for some performances can be reserved in higher numbers based on total capacity and the number of remaining seats. Some outdoor performances do not require reservations, but we still urge large groups to divide into smaller ones to avoid overcrowding in any given area. If you are unable to schedule tours to meet your needs, we encourage you to take advantage of our virtual tours to supplement what you are able to do in person.
Please do not reserve spots for shows or tours as merely options for your group. If you make a reservation, expect to fill it. If you need to cancel, please do not wait until the last minute. That makes it hard for us to accommodate other visitors.
Bus and RV parking is available at the Nauvoo Historic Sites Visitors’ Center.
If you are arriving by bus or RV, please note that Nauvoo has some very narrow streets. To keep everyone safe, the city restricts where buses and RVs can drive. Please learn the routes and obey all traffic rules.
For more information, consult the bus route map on the city website.
A limited number of picnic tables are available throughout the sites. Please clean up after yourselves when finished and carry out your trash. Local city, county, and state parks have picnic facilities. Check out their websites for current availability.
For the time being, we are discouraging large gatherings in the historic sites.
A variety of Christian churches other than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have an active presence in Nauvoo. You may want to contact your preferred congregation to determine their current meeting status and any restrictions on meeting capacity they may have. For an updated list, consult the city website.
Sacrament meetings are currently held in the stake center (380 North Durphy Street) at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Be aware that capacity limits and schedule changes may occur while Illinois works through its phased recovery plan.
Sacrament meetings are also available in surrounding cities, such as Quincy, IL; Keokuk, IA; Fort Madison, IA; and Burlington, IA. Check the meetinghouse locator on the church’s website for current meeting schedules.
Only trained service animals may be brought into the Visitors’ Center and all other buildings in Nauvoo Historic Sites. Comfort animals and other pets are not allowed inside. Pets are allowed outdoors among the historic sites, but they must be leashed. Owners are responsible for any waste disposal.
We are implementing a new landscaping plan for Historic Nauvoo as part of a long-term focus on more completely telling the story of 1840s Nauvoo. We have an excellent team of landscapers, as you can tell by walking around the Visitors’ Center, the Temple, and elsewhere in the sites. Some efforts take time and require adjustments in planting patterns as soil conditions and other considerations allow. In some spaces, we are experimenting with various options. We hope you will come back over time to see the transformation. In the meantime, please walk on established walkways.
The West Grove is being rehabilitated. New trees have been planted and need time to grow. The grove had been almost completely cleared in the decades following 1846, but it had been an important place during the Saints’ stay in Nauvoo. It was here that Joseph Smith preached many sermons, including one where he explained the doctrine of proxy baptisms for the dead. The grove was used for many such gatherings. Learn more about it by taking the Temple City tour.
What movies are available in the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center theaters?
Numerous movies covering topics about the history or people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are available. Short films introducing Nauvoo run several times a day, but there are opportunities to request a showing of other films, as well. Large youth groups can reserve times and films in advance. See Group Info.