Illinois Beach State Park - stretching 6.5 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan in northern Illinois - offers a full range of recreation opportunities at one of the most unique and beautiful natural settings in America.
Illinois Beach is the only remaining beach ridge shoreline left in the state, with dunes and swales, sprawling marshes, forests of oak and vast arrays of animal life and vegetation.
More than 650 species of plants have been recorded in the dunes area alone, including dozens of types of colorful wildflowers. Prickly pear cactus thrives in large colonies in the dry areas, and the wet prairies are carpeted with a wide variety of grasses and sedges. Large expanses of marsh in the swales support dense stands of cattail, grasses, big bluestem and sedges.
The sandy ridges are crowned by black oak forests with an open, savanna-like appearance. Several kinds of fragrant pines, introduced a century ago, also prosper in the southern area. Just north of the pines is the Dead River, a stream blocked by sandbars much of the year, features an abundance of aquatic plants and fish that belie its name.
The 4,160-acre park, consisting of two separate areas (North Unit and South Unit), offers ample opportunities for swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping and simply appreciating nature.
In addition to swimming beaches, trails and campgrounds, the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center is the perfect place to get away for a weekend or a weeklong vacation.
Bikers can travel between the North and South units of Illinois Beach State Park by utilizing the Zion Bike Trail, a section of trail connecting 29th Street at the south end to 17th Street at the north end.
Camping- No Possession or Consumption of Alcohol allowed on any site in the Campground.
A campground in the southern unit provides 241 Class A Premium sites with electricity and access to showers and sanitary facilities. You must obtain a camping permit from the park staff, and must have a camping unit upon arrival.
Reservations can be made online at www.reserveamerica.com and will only be accepted for May 1 - September 30. Due to the high use of this area on holiday weekends, reservations are recommended. Campsites also are available on a first-come first-serve basis, but understand that the campgrounds fill up early on Fridays during the summer season.
Three handicap accessible campsites are present in the campground near the accessible restrooms and a dump station.
Fishing is allowed along the beach area in both units (except in the swimming areas) and there are several small inland fishing ponds, including Sand Pond, where a disabled fishing pier is available. No fishing is allowed in the nature preserve.
Illinois Beach provides excellent hiking opportunities. The southern part of the park features 5 miles of trails, including a 2.2-mile loop trail with a graveled surface. In the north, Camp Logan Trail is a 1.8-mile multi-use loop that cross-country skiers also can use. Cross-country skiing is not allowed in the nature preserve.
Swimming is a major summertime attraction along the sandy shorelines, and both units provide ample parking. Caution is urged as there are no on-duty lifeguards, so please be careful.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach or in the nature preserve. Dogs are allowed in the campground, the picnic area, and the remainder of the trails as long as they are on a leash. Pets are not to be left unattended.