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Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary
The Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is 272 acre of wetlands offering a rare and fragile ecosystem, which includes endangered turtles, many birds and unique plant life. It is located near the intersection of U.S. Route 52 and Mormon Road about 3 miles south of Amboy. Open to the public 7 days a week for walking and bird-watching. No dogs are allowed due to sensitive plant and wildlife.
Apple River Canyon State Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River. The park offers hiking, day use, camping and fishing, plus Millville, a National Historic Register site.
CITY: Apple River
Argyle Lake State Park
Find serenity at this beautiful 1700-acre wooded park situated along an old stagecoach route between Galena and Beardstown. Featuring 95-acre Argyle Lake, the park is home to countless beaver dams and more than 200 bird species and 5 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Arrowhead Lake and Campground
Located on the northeast corner of Johnston City, this 35-acre lake includes a paved boat ramp for fishing, walking path, and campground. Only electric motors and canoes are permitted. You will find largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black and white crappie, and channel catfish in this small reservoir. Pedal boat rentals are available from July-September.
CITY: Johnston City
Ballard Nature Center
Just minutes away from the city but a world away, Ballard Nature Center is home to dozens of species of birds and wildlife. Natural prairie, wetlands, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, ponds and creeks round out the outdoor experience.
Beverly Lake Forest Preserve
Beverly Lake Forest Preserve Trail is perfect for hiking and biking. The five mile out and back trail located near Dundee that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
CITY: Hoffman Estates
The Busse Woods Trail system is located within Ned Brown Forest Preserve, a 3,700-acre property in the western suburbs of Chicago. There are 11.2 miles of paved trails for cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians. The main loop is nearly 8 miles, circling some lakes and meadows, while a couple of much shorter side loops will take you to the north and south end of the forest preserve. The Busse Woods Trail connects with the Schaumburg Bikeway on the west, and on the north, Busse Woods links to the Rolling Meadows Bikeway system. Some key features of the forest preserve include fishing, boat rentals and a small herd of captive resident elk. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset.
CITY: Elk Grove
Cache River State Natural Area
Nationally renowned for its ancient cypress-tupelo swamp, this natural area contains 100 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, and 11 state champion trees. Visitors enjoy birding, hunting, wildlife watching, and hiking. Bikers can access the Cache River via the Tunnel Hill State Trail.
This beautiful Carterville park includes a community center, baseball field, skate park, walking path that surrounds a fishing pond, volleyball courts (sand), playground, pavilion, gazebo, and memorial garden. Ballfields and shelters can be reserved.
Canoe the Vermilion
This outfitter in the Illinois Valley offers canoe equipment, instruction, and transportation to help you fully enjoy this scenic stretch of the Vermilion River. Venture out on your own, or choose from excursions that include everything from picnics along the river to overnight camping trips.
The largest man-made lake in Illinois (26,000 acres), is a premier location for outdoor sports. We known to sailors, it is one of the best and most challenging for sailboats. There is also boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, sand beaches, and camping areas. Hotels, cabins and golf courses make the area a true outdoor lover's playground.
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Ski along scenic slopes at Galena's Chestnut Mountain Resort, perched high above the Mississippi River. Rated by Ski Magazine as one of the top ski resorts in the Midwest, Chestnut Mountain goes all out with a snowboarding park and night skiing. Stay at the rustic 120-room lodge, which has three restaurants, including the fine-dining Sunset Grille. There are fun non-skiing activities in the summer as well, including boat cruises on the Mississippi Explorer and the exhilarating Alpine Slide, which speeds 2,000 feet down a hillside. Or try the new Segway Mountain Adventure Tours, a three-mile guided ride through rolling terrain.
Deer Grove Forest Preserve
Located in Palatine, IL, Deer Grove Forest Preserve has trails that offer a moderate level of difficulty. At almost 10 miles in length, the hiking trials make Deer Grove worth a visit. Split into two very individual sites connected by paved and unpaved trials, the east preserve features open wetlands surrounded by old fields and an in-progress savanna and prairie restoration. The west side is wilder, the forest denser and crisscrossed with footpaths along the rolling terrain. Quite woodlands, white-tailed deer and a completely different experience await the hiker on the west side. Both paths are equally enchanting.
Eagle Watching - Union County Refuge
The Union County Refuge in Union offers a popular spot for bald eagle watching. Visitors can view bald eagles and take wildlife photography off the main road, which runs down the middle of the wildlife refuge. Park rangers will be available weekdays to answer questions about the eagles and other wildlife spotted in the refuge. Admission is free. For more information on eagle watching, contact the Union County Refuge (618-833-5175).
Emma Mae Leonard Wildlife Sanctuary
Watch Birds, waterfowl and other life in their natural habitat. Recently refurbished wooden docks and trails are a nice addition.
Forest Preserve District of Will County
Biking and running trails, bird watching, camping, cross-country skiing, sledding, outdoor ice skating, canoeing and rafting and fishing. The district office provides all information on preserves and issues picnic permits.
Experienced birder, knowledgeable about a variety of birding habitats in the Galena/Jo Daviess County Area, offers guided field trips on selected Saturdays. Private trips available by appointment.
Magnificent full-service inn celebrating more than 30 years of hospitality. Featuring elite amenities, dining and spa services in a romantic setting overlooking the Mississippi River.
Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center
The Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center is a joint project of the Homewood-Flossmoor (HF Parks.com) and Olympia Fields (OF Parks.com) park districts. The near 40-acre nature preserve is home to a diversity of wildlife and habitat types. See beautiful woods, wildflowers, birds and furry friends along the way. There are trails along both sides of the park which is located at Vollmer and Western Avenues in Olympia Fields. Please be careful when crossing Vollmer Road. The Park is open to the public daily, sunrise to sunset
CITY: Olympia Fields
Kickapoo Creek Park
Kickapoo State Recreation Area in Oakwood, IL has 22 deep-water ponds, ranging in size from 0.2 to 57 acres, providing a total of 221 acres of water for boaters, canoeists and anglers. Lushly forested uplands and bottomlands along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River is habitat for enough birds, wildlife and wildflowers to please any nature lover, while nature trails and running trails provide pathways to inspiration and physical fitness. If you want a less demanding excursion in the outdoors, there are facilities for camping and picnicking. With 22 lakes and access to the Middle Fork River, Kickapoo is known for the opportunities it provides for water-based outdoor activities. Anglers find excellent fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie and redear sunfish. Especially popular are the annual fall and spring stockings of rainbow trout, which provide an unusual opportunity for central Illinois anglers to fish for catch-able size trout. There are 12 launching ramps on nine of Kickapoo's lakes. Boat and canoe rental is available for Clear Pond.
Lake of Egypt
Lake of Egypt is a privately owned reservoir located six miles south of Marion, Illinois and covers 2,300 acres with 90 miles of shoreline. The lake has an average depth of 18 feet. The lake is owned by the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC), who created the impoundment in 1962, by damming the South fork of the Saline River, to supply cooling water for a coal-burning electric power plant.
Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve
Nature preserve for bird watching. There are herons and egrets which flourish through the parks and around the lake.
Central Illinois lake with over 11,000 water acres and 172 miles of shoreline. Lake Shelbyville has 5 federal campgrounds, and 2 state campgrounds with over 1,000 campsites from tent camping up to full hookup. There are several recreational areas with picnic areas and pavilions and 2 wildlife management areas. Three public beaches are available for swimming on the lake. The lake also hosts many launching ramps that are available for boats, and 3 marinas on the lake. Many hiking trails also encompass the lake such as the General Dacey which also includes fitness stations, the Chief Illini trail and others.
Lincoln Trail State Park
Whether you are looking for history, unusual plant life or recreation, Lincoln Trail State Park has something to interest you. The area is named after the Lincoln Heritage Trail where Abraham Lincoln's family followed en route from Indiana to Illinois in 1831. Lincoln Trail State Park offers American beech woods and a nature preserve with hiking trails, boat rentals, camping, biking, bird watching, fishing, ice fishing and ice skating. Restaurant open seasonally.
Melvin Price Locks & Dam
Get the best view of Alton and the Mississippi River from eight stories in the air atop the Melvin Price Locks & Dam. Take a free guided tour and see towboats and barges as they push their way through this incredible structure. It's also a great spot to eagle watch in the winter.
Mississippi River Visitor Center
The visitor center overlooks Lock & Dam 15 on Arsenal Island. See the observation deck - a great spot for viewing bald eagles in the winter and for watching barges lock through on their way up and down the mighty Mississippi River. Enjoy exhibits on the Mississippi River and a gift shop. Guided tours are available of the Lock & Dam system on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tour Reservations are required!
CITY: Rock Island
Owl Prowl Weekend
On Friday and Saturday, Steve Bailey (an ornithologist) will be at the Starved Rock Lodge for Owl Programs and Owl Walks. The Owl Walk Program begins at 6:00pm with the walk to follow finishing back at Lodge around 8:30pm. Price is $10 for adults/$7 children 10 & under. Everyone plan on bringing a flashlight. Reservations are required to attend. On Saturday and Sunday, "Hoo" Haven Wildlife and Education Center will be here with their owls and other friends for presentations at 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm in the LaSalle room of the Lodge. Adults: $5/Children 10 & under $2.50. Limited availability. Please call 815-220-7386 for more info and to make your reservation. Also on Sunday night there will be a Owl Prowl Package available that will include 2 tickets to a HooHaven presentation and a night walk on Sunday night. The night walk on Sunday is only available to the guests staying over with that package.
Pere Marquette State Park
At 8,000 acres, Pere Marquette State Park is the largest state park in Illinois. Go hiking on wooded trails, biking along scenic bluffs, fishing and boating on the Illinois River, or horseback riding through the forest. The park is also known for its guided fall color drives and eagle-watching tours in the winter. The rustic stone-and-timber Pere Marquette Lodge makes a great base for exploring the area.
Prairie Ridge State Natural Area
Located southwest of Newton, Prairie Ridge is a wonderful site for observing rare species of grassland wildlife. Over 2500 acres, visitors will enjoy bird watching, nature study, photography and much more.
Pyramid Acres Campground & Marina
Offers gas, bait, tackle, ice, beer, groceries, contour maps and camping with water and electricity. Open all year. Located at the northeastern edge of the lake.
River Bend Forest Preserve
The 275-acre River Bend Forest Preserve south of Mahomet contains approximately 130 acres of clear water in two lakes, one of which is the largest public lake in Champaign County, and includes 2.5 miles of forest along the Sangamon River.
Rosiclare River Walk
Located in Rosiclare City Park, the River Walk offers great views of the Ohio River. The walk is handicapped accessible with benches for those who want to rest and enjoy the view.
Sand Bluff Bird Observatory
A fascinating opportunity to see a wide variety of migrating birds banded and released. Special events in spring and fall, including the annual BirdFest in early May. Located in the Colored Sands Forest Preserve in the northwestern corner of Winnebago County. Colored Sands, site of original and restored prairies, is one of the most beautiful natural areas in northern Illinois.
Sangamon River Forest Preserve
Sangamon River Forest Preserve, a 160-acre gem, offers a variety of natural features and is ideal for low-impact activities such as picnicking, bird-watching, hiking and river fishing. The preserve hosts the Lincoln Ash Tree, one of the largest ash trees in the state.
Located off historic and scenic Stagecoach Trail. Offers picnic and playground areas, ball diamond, basketball court, bird watching on seven acres. In Waddams Grove.
Shoal Creek Nature Preserve
This 260-acre site offers nature trails for visitors to explore wetlands, prairie openings, and sandstone bluffs and ledges. The preserve is home to more than 700 plants and 70 bird species, including bald eagles during the winter months.
The Morton Arboretum
Magnificent, 1,700-acre museum of trees and plants from around the world. Hiking trails, paved roads, restaurant, gift shop, open-air tram and handicapped accessible facilities. A perfect place to visit this fall.
ThunderHawk Golf Club
This public golf facility, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., is one of the most challenging courses in the Chicago area. This 18-hole, par 72 c golf course is nestled on 241 acres of beautiful forest, marsh and prairie. This is the first public course in the United States to achieve Audubon Signature Sanctuary certification. Banquet facilities to accommodate a wide range of group sizes from small private outings to a full-course tournament. Golfers can spot bluebirds while playing one of the hottest courses in the Chicago area.
CITY: Beach Park
Union County State Fish & Wildlife Area
This area currently winters nearly 100,000 of the 850,000 Canadian geese that spend the cold-weather months in Illinois. Numerous shallow sloughs and other water areas are scattered throughout its 6,202 acres.
Wildlife Prairie Park
A unique, 2,000-acre zoological park which is home to wolves, bison, waterfowl, black bear, elk, cougar, otter, and others. You will enjoy the park's spectacular natural settings, butterfly garden, wildflowers, lakes and restored prairies.
CITY: Hanna City