List of protected areas of Illinois

Illinois has a variety of protected areas, including 123 state protected areas - state parks, wildlife areas, recreation areas, nature reserves, and state forests. There are also federal and local level protected areas in the state. These levels interact to provide a variety of recreation opportunities and conservation schemes, sometimes in a small area. For instance, 1,500-acre (6.1 km2) Shabbona Lake State Park lies in DeKalb County which has its own 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) forest preserve system, while the City of DeKalb has a 700-acre (2.8 km2) park system.

Map of Protected Areas of Illinois
Each dot is linked to the corresponding article:
Parks; Forests; Recreation Areas;
Fish and Wildlife Areas; Natural Areas;
National Historic Sites and Trails

A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Illinois, Cahokia, is protected as State-owned historic site.


Illinois has a wide variety of state owned and administered protected areas: state parks, state forests, state recreation areas, state fish and wildlife areas, state natural areas, and one state trail. They are all administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In addition, several of the state historic sites, administered by its Illinois Historic Preservation Division, also include nature reserves.

There is also one national forest, Shawnee National Forest, and several other sites administered by the National Park Service, including portions of National Trails. There are also National Wildlife Refuges.

Federal protected areas

U.S. Wilderness Areas

National Forest Service

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

National Park Service

There are no national parks in Illinois but the Parks Service operates the federally owned 12-acre (49,000 m2) Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois and the Pullman National Monument in Chicago. The Chicago Portage National Historic Site is a NPS-affiliated site which is located in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s Portage Woods and Ottawa Trail Woods units. In addition, the NPS partners in the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Current state parks

State parks are owned by the state and generally administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.[1]

Park Name   County or Counties   Area (acres)  Area (km2)   Year Established   Water Body(s) Remarks  
Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State ParkLake 4,160 16.81948Lake Michigan
Anderson Lake State Fish & Wildlife AreaFulton 2,247 9.091947Anderson Lake
Apple River Canyon State ParkJo Daviess 297 1.201932Apple River
Argyle Lake State ParkMcDonough 1,700 6.91948Argyle Lake
Baldwin Lake State Fish & Wildlife AreaRandolph 2,018 8.17?Baldwin Lake
Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife AreaFulton 4,363 17.66?Illinois River
Bartlett Woods Nature PreserveLee 23 0.0931987Big Bureau Creek
Beall Woods State ParkWabash 635 2.571966Coffee Creek
Beaver Dam State ParkMacoupin 750 3.01947Beaver Dam Lake
Big River State ForestHenderson 2,900 121925Mississippi River
Bohm Woods Nature Preserve[2]Madison 90 0.36?
Buffalo Rock State Park & Effigy TumuliLaSalle 298 1.21November 15, 1928Illinois River
Cache River State Natural AreaJohnson 14,314 57.931970Cache River
Cape Bend State Fish and Wildlife Area[3]Alexander 1,380 5.6?
Carlyle Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaFayette 37,000 1501966Carlyle Lake
Castle Rock State ParkOgle 2,000 8.11921Rock River
Cave-in-Rock State ParkHardin 204 0.831929Ohio River
Chain O'Lakes State ParkMcHenry 1,700 6.91945Bluff Lake, Catherine Lake, Channel Lake, Fox Lake, Fox River, Grass Lake, Marie Lake, Nippersink Lake, Petite Lake, Pistakee Lake, Redhead Lake, Turner Lake
Channahon State ParkWill 20.5 0.0831932DuPage River, Des Plaines River, Kankakee River
Clinton Lake State Recreation AreaDeWitt 9,300 381978Clinton Lake, Salt Creek, Old Creek
Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaMontgomery 297 1.201966Coffeen Lake, Shoal Creek
Crawford County State Fish and Wildlife AreaCrawford 1,129 4.57?Huston Creek
Delabar State ParkHenderson 89 0.361960Mississippi River
Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife AreaWill 5,000 201948Kankakee River, Milliken Lake
Dixon Springs State ParkPope 801 3.241946Wabash River
Donnelley/Depue State ParkPutnam 3,015 12.201982Lake DePue, Spring Lake, Coleman Lake, Illinois River
Double T State Fish and Wildlife AreaFulton 1,961 7.942001Double T Lake
Eagle Creek State Recreation AreaShelby 11,100 45May, 1963Lake Shelbyville, Eagle Creek
Edward R. Madigan State Fish and Wildlife AreaLogan 974 3.941971Salt Creek
Eldon Hazlet State Recreation AreaClinton 3,000 12?Carlyle Lake, Lake Shelbyville
Ferne Clyffe State ParkJohnson 2,430 9.81949Ferne Clyffe Lake
Fort Massac State ParkMassac 1,450 5.91908Ohio River
Fox Ridge State ParkColes 2,064 8.351930sRidge Lake, Embarras River
Frank Holten State Recreation AreaSt. Clair 1,080 4.41964Whispering Willow Lake, Grand Marais Lake
Franklin Creek State Natural AreaLee 882 3.571982Franklin Creek
Fults Hill Prairie State Natural AreaMonroe 997 4.031970Kidd Lake
Gebhard Woods State ParkGrundy 30 0.121934Nettle Creek
Giant City State ParkJackson, Union 1,100 4.51927Little Grassy Lake, Indian Creek
Golconda Marina State Recreation AreaPope 274 1.11?Ohio River
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural AreaGrundy 2,537 10.271969Goose Lake, Des Plaines River, Kankakee River, Illinois River
Green River State Wildlife AreaLee 2,565 10.381940Green River
Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife AreaHamilton 1,683 6.811962Dolan Lake
Harry "Babe" Woodyard State Natural AreaVermilion 1,104 4.47??
Hazel & Bill Rutherford Wildlife Prairie State ParkPeoria 1,700 6.92000Deep Lake, Caboose Lake, Beaver Lake, Horseshoe Lake
Heidecke Lake State Fish & Wildlife AreaGrundy 1,300 5.3?Heidecke Lake
Hennepin Canal Parkway State ParkBureau, Lee, Whiteside, Rock Island, Henry60,314 244.081970Hennepin Canal104.5-mile (168.2 km) linear park (W To Moline then N to Rock Falls vic.)
Hidden Springs State ForestShelby 1,200 4.91960Richland Creek, Possum Creek
Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife AreaAlexander 10,200 41?Horseshoe Lake
Horseshoe Lake State ParkMadison 2,960 12.0?Horseshoe Lake
Illini State ParkLaSalle 510 2.11934Illinois River
Illinois Caverns State Natural AreaMonroe 120 0.491985None9.6 km of the park are passages underground.
Iroquois County State Wildlife AreaIroquois 2,480 10.01944NoneOccupies the edge of the former Glacial Lake Watseka.
James "Pate" Philip State ParkDuPage, Kane 3,432 13.891991Brewester Creek
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife AreaCass 16,550 67.0June, 1993Gridley Lake, Prairie Lake, Drake Lake
Johnson-Sauk Trail State ParkHenry 1,365 5.52?Johnson-Sauk Trail Lake
Jubilee College State ParkPeoria 3,200 131933None
Kankakee River State ParkKankakee, Will 4,000 161938Kankakee River
Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife AreaSt. Clair, Monroe, Randolph 20,000 81?Kaskaskia River, Baldwin Lake
Kickapoo State Recreation AreaVermilion 2,842 11.501939Middle Fork
Kinkaid Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaJackson 11,750 47.61968Kinkaid Lake, Johnson Creek, Reed Creek
Kishwaukee River State Fish and Wildlife AreaDeKalb 570 2.32002Kishwaukee River
Lake Le-Aqua-Na State ParkStephenson 715 2.891948Lake Le-Aqua-Na
Lake Murphysboro State ParkJackson 1,022 4.141948Lake Murphysboro
LaSalle Lake State Fish & Wildlife AreaLaSalle 2,058 8.33?LaSalle Lake
Lewis and Clark State Historic SiteMadison 2002None
Lincoln Trail Homestead State MemorialMacon 162 0.661957Sangamon River
Lincoln Trail State ParkClark 1,023 4.141958Lincoln Trail Lake
Lowden State ParkOgle 207 0.841945Rock River
Mackinaw River State Fish and Wildlife AreaTazewell 1,448 5.861970Mackinaw River
Marshall State Fish & Wildlife AreaMarshall 6,000 241925Illinois River
Matthiessen State ParkLaSalle 1,700 6.91943Deer Park Lake, Vermilion River
Mautino State Fish and Wildlife AreaBureau 911 3.69?15 lakes
Mazonia/Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife AreaGrundy 1,017 4.121981Braidwood Lake
Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaMassac 2,630 10.61949Mermet Lake
Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife AreaVermilion 2,700 111986Middle Fork
Mississippi Palisades State ParkCarroll 2,500 101973Mississippi River, Apple River
Mississippi River State Fish and Wildlife AreaJersey, Calhoun 24,386 98.69?Stump Lake, Fuller Lake
Moraine Hills State ParkMcHenry 2,200 8.91939Lake Defiance, Fox River
Moraine View State Recreation AreaMcLean 1,687 6.831959Dawson Lake, Salt Creek
Morrison-Rockwood State ParkWhiteside 1,164 4.711971Rock Creek, Lake Carlton
Nauvoo State ParkHancock 148 0.60?Mississippi River, Lake Horton
Newton Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaJasper 1,775 7.181979Newton Lake, Sand Creek, Laws Creek
North Point MarinaLake 297 1.20?Lake Michigan
Peabody River State Fish and Wildlife AreaRandolph 2,200 8.9?20 lakes
Pere Marquette State ParkJersey 8,050 32.61931Mississippi River, Illinois River
Piney Creek Ravine State Natural AreaJackson, Randolph 198 0.801972Piney Creek
Prophetstown State Recreation AreaWhiteside 53 0.211947Coon Creek, Rock River
Pyramid State Recreation AreaPerry 19,701 79.731968Super Lake
Ramsey Lake State Recreation AreaFayette 1,980 8.0?Ramsey Lake, Ramsey Creek
Randolph County State Recreation AreaRandolph 1,101 4.461958Randolph County Lake
Ray Norbut State Fish and Wildlife AreaPike 1,140 4.61970Illinois River
Red Hills State ParkLawrence 967 3.911953Muddy Creek
Rend Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaFranklin, Jefferson 38,900 157?Rend Lake
Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaFulton 5,660 22.91945Rice Lake
Rock Cut State ParkWinnebago 3,092 12.511957Pierce Lake, Olson Lake
Rock Island Trail State ParkStark, Peoria1989None26-mile (42 km) public rail trail.
Saline County State Fish and Wildlife AreaSaline 1,270 5.11959Glen O. Jones Lake
Sam Dale Lake State Fish and Wildlife AreaWayne 1,302 5.271959Sam Dale Lake
Sam Parr State Fish and Wildlife AreaJasper 1,180 4.81960
Sand Ridge State ForestMason 7,200 291939None
Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife AreaCass, Schuyler, Mason 10,360 41.91948
Sangchris Lake State Recreation AreaChristian, Sangamon 3,022 12.231964Sangchris Lake
Shabbona Lake State ParkDeKalb 1,550 6.31978Shabbona Lake
Shelbyville State Fish and Wildlife AreaMoultrie 6,200 25?Kaskaskia River, West Okaw River
Sielbeck Forest Natural AreaJohnson 385 1.561998
Siloam Springs State ParkAdams, Brown 3,323 13.451940
Silver Springs State Fish & Wildlife AreaKendall 1,350 5.51969Fox River, Loon Lake, Beaver Lake, Silver Springs
Snakeden Hollow State Fish and Wildlife AreaKnox 2,500 101987Snakeden Hollow Lake
South Shore State ParkClinton 26,000 110?Carlyle Lake
Spitler Woods State Natural AreaMacon 202.5 0.8191937Squirrel Creek
Spring Lake Fish and Wildlife AreaTazewell 2,032 8.221950Spring Lake
Starved Rock State ParkLaSalle 2,630 10.61911Illinois River
Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation AreaMarion 3,103 12.561959
Ten Mile Creek State Fish & Wildlife AreaHamilton, Jefferson 6,000 241988Ten Mile Creek
Trail of Tears State ForestUnion 5,114 20.701929Mississippi River, Clear Creek
Tunnel Hill State TrailJohnson, Pulaski, Saline, WilliamsonNone45-mile (72.4 km) Trail.
Turkey Bluffs State Fish and Wildlife AreaRandolph 2,264 9.16?
Union County State Fish and Wildlife AreaUnion 6,202 25.101940s
Volo Bog State Natural AreaLake 1,150 4.71970Volo Bog
Walnut Point State ParkDouglas 671 2.721968
Washington County State Recreation AreaWashington 900 3.61959
Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation AreaFranklin, Jefferson 3,300 131975Rend Lake, Big Muddy River
Weinberg-King State ParkSchuyler 772 3.121968?
Weldon Springs State Recreation AreaDeWitt 550 2.21948Salt Creek
White Pines Forest State ParkOgle 385 1.561927Pine Creek, Spring CreekSouthernmost stand of virgin, native white pine trees in the state of Illinois.[4]
William G. Stratton State ParkGrundy
William W. Powers State Recreation AreaCook 580 2.31947Wolf Lake
Wolf Creek State ParkShelby 23,500 951968Lake Shelbyville, Wolf Creek
Woodford State Fish and Wildlife AreaWoodford 2,900 12Illinois River, Upper Peoria Lake

Historic preservation

Around 50 usually smaller sites concerning historic structures are owned by the state and administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Division, some of which may have a nature preservation component, including the Cahokia World Heritage Site and Lincoln's New Salem.[5]

Local level parks

A variety of county and town protected areas exist in Illinois, including city park districts and county-wide Forest Preserve Districts. One of the largest systems is the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, which includes Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden as well as 69,000 acres (280 km2) of open land, or 11 percent of Cook County’s land area.

  • Boone County Conservation District
  • Byron Forest Preserve District - 900 acres (3.6 km2)
  • Champaign County Forest Preserve District - 3,800 acres (15 km2)
  • Forest Preserve District of Cook County - 69,000 acres (280 km2)
  • DeKalb County Forest Preserve - 1,020 acres (4.1 km2)
  • Forest Preserve District of DuPage County - 24,000 acres (97 km2)
  • Forest Preserve District of Kane County - 17,135 acres (69.34 km2)
  • Forest Preserves of the Kankakee River Valley - 250 acres (1.0 km2)
  • Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation
  • Kendall County Forest Preserve District - 2,150 acres (8.7 km2)
  • Lake County Forest Preserve - 26,200 acres (106 km2)
  • Macon County Conservation District - 3,200 acres (13 km2)
  • McHenry County Conservation District - 20,000 acres (81 km2)
  • Putnam Country Conservation District - 950-acre (3.8 km2)
  • Rock Island Forest Preserve District - 1,900 acres (7.7 km2)
  • Vermilion County Conservation District - 6,000 acres (24 km2)
  • Forest Preserve District of Will County - 21,916 acres (88.69 km2)
  • Winnebago County Forest Preserve District - 9,000 acres (36 km2)


  1. "State Parks & Outdoor Recreation". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  2. "Bohm Woods Nature Preserve". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  3. "Cape Bend State Fish and Wildlife Area". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  4. "Conserving the Land: The Rock River Country Archived 2005-04-19 at the Wayback Machine," Critical Trends Assessment Program, Rock River Country Project ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-04-19. Retrieved 2007-07-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)), Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 3 July 2007.
  5. "Visit a State Historic Site". Illinois Historic Preservation Division. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
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