Must-Visit National Parks in Illinois

Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors

Introduction

The Illinois national parks are among the best in the country.

Although not quite Grand Canyon National Park, you don't have to travel far from home to find some of the most beautiful natural areas in America. In fact, you can explore many of them right in Illinois. The national parks and other natural areas throughout the state offer not just a break for your body but also a chance to renew your spirit.

The National Park Service was created by President Theodore Roosevelt on August 25, 1916 "to conserve the scenery and wildlife, including endangered species...and provide access," according to the agency's website (www.nps.gov). Today there are more than 400 sites with this designation across America; several of them are right in Illinois!

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, (although technically located in Northwest Indiana, Chicagoans claim it as their own) is a great place to visit for those interested in seeing some of the most diverse examples of coastal dune and swale topography as well as plant and animal habitats found anywhere. The park offers 152 miles worth of hiking trails so visitors will have plenty to do when exploring all that it has on offer!

The lakeshore also protects several historic buildings from various periods such as Fort Dearborn, which was established by settlers before being burned down during an 1812 battle with Native Americans who were defending their homeland. There are many other attractions here including beaches where visitors can enjoy swimming or surfing along with opportunities for birdwatching among others.

There's something for everyone at this national lakeshore so be sure to visit the next time you're in Northwest Indiana!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This park is located in North Dakota, but it includes a small extension that extends into Illinois. The area around the park has an incredible diversity of terrain and wildlife. There's also some great camping opportunities at this site as well!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the original national parks and is named for Theodore Roosevelt, who had a big impact on conservation in America. It's home to more than 100 different species of animals including bighorn sheep! The park also has plenty of hiking trails that will take you through scenic landscapes as well as an old-fashioned pioneer village with buildings and artifacts that represent the history of this area.

Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is a place that celebrates what Illinois has to offer in terms of natural beauty and culture. It's located among the Shawnee National Forest at Utica, IL which offers visitors plenty of quality time spent outdoors whether they are looking for opportunities to hike or just enjoy nature during its different seasons.

It commemorates the Native Americans who 'starved' here while traveling westward and is also where the Potawatomi Indians named this area in memory of their ancestors.

Visitors are able to explore different cultural events throughout the year as well!

The park offers a variety of activities for adventurers of all ages including biking, canoeing, fishing or kayaking on the Kankakee River.

The park is also home to a wide variety of different wildlife which visitors may encounter if they are lucky enough! This includes everything from deer and coyotes to raccoons, heron or even black bears so be sure you have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities!

It's a great place to take your family for an outing or even just come out on your own if you want some time spent in nature.

Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is located in the northeastern corner of Illinois and has a vast body of water called Pyramid Lake. It offers visitors plenty to explore during their time here including fishing, boating or even looking for endangered bird species like bald eagles!

This park also features an abundance of wildlife ranging from deer, squirrels, coyotes, foxes and raccoons to more than 200 species of birds.

The park offers a lot for the adventurous types with over 60 miles of hiking trails or horseback riding opportunities as well as plenty of chances to enjoy nature's beauty in its different seasons from spring flowers blooming in summertime through fall foliage changing colors at the end of the year.

Visitors are also able to go camping during their time in Matthiessen State Park or even rent a cabin on site if they don't have that gear!

The park offers something for everyone and is worth checking out this summer whether you're looking for family activities, hiking trails or just some quality time spent in nature.

Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest is a National Park Service site. This forest is located in southern Illinois and includes the headwaters of the Ohio River, Shawnee Lake as well as deep canyons. Visitors to this area will find an amazing natural environment that offers everything from camping and hiking opportunities to many plant species (including more than 400 species of tree)!

The Shawnee National Forest is one of the most biodiverse areas in North America. It's also home to some amazing wildlife, such as deer, wild turkey and black bear! The forest has more than 250 miles of trails that are open to hiking year-round. There are even a few cabins available for rent on site if you want to stay overnight in this beautiful natural area!

Shawnee National Forests offers many different recreational opportunities including camping sites with provisions like water and electrical hookups for RVs or tents. Hikers will enjoy over 250 miles of trails through deep canyons and picturesque overlooks. For those who prefer quieter spaces during the summer months, there are wonderful spots for fishing (including smallmouth bass) or bird watching too!

Pullman National Monument

The Pullman National Monument and historic district preserves the site of an industrial community which was company owned. The town’s difference from other towns at that time is it had a racially and ethnically integrated community.

It started with George M. Pullman's factory, he designed his new sleeping car as a luxury coach in order to compete against those already on the market by providing an upscale product for passengers desiring some additional comfort who were willing to pay a premium price over regular train fare. They did this in order to avoid staying inside dirty or unsafe hotels while traveling cross-country by rail during this period when there was no national grid system for electricity nor indoor plumbing in such establishments and cities where trains stopped only briefly before continuing westward. It opened January 26, 1857, at 104th Street and Broadway in Chicago.

It was a community that gave jobs to African-Americans who were formerly enslaved by the south's plantation system before fleeing northward during Reconstruction. Pullman is still an example of what could be accomplished when people work together as one.

In 1972 it became a National Monument under President Nixon because of its significance for democracy and civil rights. The site has not been developed nor does it have any buildings or attractions on the grounds but visitors can come to learn about this significant piece of history within our country’s past while also seeing important landmarks such as Ida B Wells' house which she founded after moving out from her father's home due to his refusal to pay taxes in protest of the lack of services for African-Americans in her community.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in central Illinois preserves the birthplace and boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.

This site stands as a testament to what one person can do when they are committed to this country's ideals and values that make us who we are today. It was restored using original building techniques from 1874 so visitors can come learn about not only how our nation’s leader lived but also how middle class families at that time were able to live during their era in history. The site offers guided tours along with self-guided audio tours for those interested in spending more time exploring all it has on offer!

There is no admission fee required to visit this national historic site as well which makes it an excellent option for those on a tight budget.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is the first national historic trail to commemorate an event in US History (i.e., the Lewis and Clark Expedition).

The park is named after the two famous explorers Lewis and Clark, who set off from their home in Virginia on an exploration of what was then called “the Louisiana Territory” for President Thomas Jefferson. They would make maps along the way that were used by future pioneers to settle these lands during a time when Native Americans still dominated this area. These explorations helped open up much of our country west of Missouri River to settlement which led many other expeditions also being sent out like those headed by John C Fremont or Kit Carson among others as we continue exploring more about this vast land!

It covers more than 50% of what was then called "the Louisiana Purchase" including parts of 12 states that were either part of or subsequently admitted as new states into the Union: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota (then known as Minnesota Territory), Montana (then known as Washington County) Wyoming (then known as Idaho Territory), Oregon(a territory at this time not yet a state), Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

Travelers will experience landscapes from lush forests with meandering rivers all the way out to arid desert terrain. The route also crosses many major waterways such as the Mississippi River, Missouri River, and Columbia River.

The trail is over 4000 miles long so it's a great opportunity to see the United States of America in all its beauty!

There are many different types of natural resources found along the route such as fossils, petrified wood and coal which can be seen at various sites across the country including Yellowstone National Park. There are also opportunities for outdoor activities like horseback riding or hiking among others that visitors have access to while exploring this historic landmark.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail was established on April 12th 1968 by President Lyndon B Johnson with an executive order designating its establishment as a national memorial park under the control of the US Department of Interior’s bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail is the only national historic trail that commemorates an event in LDS Church history.

It was established by Congress on October 19th 1968, designating it as a “National Historic Trail” under the control of the US Department of Interior and created to commemorate the first transcontinental journey of members from The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints (LDS) who were seeking refuge in Utah following persecution they had suffered during their many attempts at settlement throughout what we now know as Iowa, Missouri or Illinois among others. This marked one more step in this religious group's quest for freedom after having been persecuted so often elsewhere which eventually led them all across these United States until finally settling here where they hope to be able to live their lives in peace and worship as they please.

The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail is about 3000 miles long so it's a great opportunity for visitors who are interested in American history, religious studies or just have an interest in the West! It passes through many states including Iowa, Missouri (or Illinois) among others on its way from New York City across America until finally ending up at Salt Lake City which was founded by Brigham Young after he arrived here with his followers. Visitors will experience landscapes ranging from lush forests all the way out to arid desert terrain while passing over major waterways such as Mississippi River and Colorado River.

Along this trail you'll find opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking horseback riding or skiing depending on the season.

Chicago Portage National Historic Site

Chicago Portage National Historic Site commemorates where the first transportation canal linking the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins was constructed. It is a testament to man's ingenuity in engineering, reflecting on how we have become so reliant on cars or planes to transport us from one place to another when it once took just canals!

It marks what would be considered as an important turning point for American history that could not have been achieved without Jean Baptiste Point du Sable who originally explored this area of land around 1779-1780 before returning later with his family in 1818. This site also includes Lake Michigan which connects with four other major lakes: Huron, Erie, Ontario and Superior through waterways like Chicago River and Illinois Rivers among others.

The site is not only important for the engineering marvel it has become but also because of its location which allowed adventurers to travel between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin in order to make communication, trade or exploration possible! It's a place where we can reflect on how far our country has come over time as well as how much life here would have been like without this canal connecting these two very different parts of America.

Visitors will be able to experience many outdoor activities including fishing, hiking or bird watching depending on what they are most interested in. There are interpretive programs available at various times during the year so be sure you check out their schedule before coming if that interests you too!

Moraine Hills State Park

The Moraine Hills State Park is a beautiful place to visit this summer! It's located in southern Illinois and offers everything from outdoor activities like hiking, biking or horseback riding.

It also features the natural beauty of the Shawnee National Forest which surrounds it with plenty of opportunity for exploring nature during its different seasons.

This park is a great place to take the family on an outing and will also offer plenty of activities for kids like picnicking, hiking or even catching some fish in one of their many ponds.

Visitors are able to explore different cultural events throughout the year as well!

The park offers a variety of activities for adventurers of all ages including biking, canoeing, fishing or kayaking on the Kankakee River.

The park is also home to a wide variety of different wildlife which visitors may encounter if they are lucky enough! This includes everything from deer and coyotes to raccoons, heron or even black bears so be sure you have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities!

It's a great place to take your family for an outing or even just come out on your own if you want some time spent in nature.

Illinois Beach State Park

Illinois Beach State Park is a great place to visit during the summertime. It's located on the Indiana state line just north of Chicago and features over two miles of sandy beachfront that makes it perfect for taking in nature at its best!

Visitors have plenty to explore here including everything from beaches, prairies, marshes, lakes and even the Illinois River.

The park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy whether they're looking for something relaxing like fishing or birdwatching, hiking on their many trails or biking along its bike paths.

It's also home to some great wildlife such as deer, coyotes, raccoons, heron, black bears and even alligators!

Illinois Beach State Park is the perfect place to spend some time outside this summer whether you've got kids in tow or just want a quiet escape for yourself.

Visitors are able to explore different cultural events throughout the year as well!

Final Thoughts on National Parks in Illinois

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

— John Muir

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Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors