Front / Park Office
Zion, IL 60099
January - December: Sunrise - Sunset
CAMPGROUND & YOUTH GROUP AREA WILL BE CLOSED JANUARY - MARCH EVERY YEAR.
- RESERVATIONS are not available for the rest of the year - All sites are now on a first come first serve basis til December 31.
- NATURE CENTER is currently closed.
- EMERALD ASH BORER ALERT! Campers should purchase firewood within or nearby the state park.
Photos © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
A full range
of recreation opportunities complement the expansive shoreline of Illinois
Beach State Park. Interested in jogging and bicycling? The trails are
waiting! Or, is physical fitness your current pursuit? Whether you're
an active outdoor enthusiast or just interested in a quiet walk along
some of the Midwest's most scenic beaches, this is the place for you!
for 6.5 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan in northern
Illinois, Illinois Beach State Park encompasses the only remaining beach
ridge shoreline left in the state.
Illinois Beach is
a unique and captivating natural resource for all to enjoy. It was created
by the titanic forces of glacial advance and retreat and the steady winds
that swept across expansive Lake Michigan. The park has dunes and swales
with sprawling marshes, forests of oak and vast arrays of animal life
The 4,160-acre park,
consisting of two separate areas, offers ample opportunities for swimming,
boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping and just appreciating nature.
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, bluejoint grass, prairie cordgrass, reed grass,
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 these
pines is the Dead River, a stream blocked by
sandbars much of the year, forming an elongated pond. When the water finally
rises high enough, it breaks through the sandbar and drains the surrounding
marshes. The abundance of aquatic plants and fish flourishing in this
changing environment belie its name.
On May 9, 2000, the
area encompassing Illinois Beach State Park and North Point Marina was
officially designated as the Cullerton Complex in honor of William J.
Cullerton, Sr., a war hero, avid environmentalist and longtime friend of
Cullerton, best known
by the general public for his "Great Outdoors" show which aired
for many years on WGN-AM Radio, spent nearly 50 years promoting fishing
in the Midwest and supported a multitude of outdoor-related organizations
Long recognized for
its complex geological structure, unique flora and spectacular beauty,
the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the
"Three Fires" of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa. Prior to then, the area had been occupied by the Miami.
In the late 1600s,
French explorers first visited the area as part of their survey of what
was then known as the Northwest Territory. By the time Illinois became
a state in 1818, the area was full of transient hunters and trappers.
In 1836, a treaty was made with the local Native Americans, who were moved
westward, and the area became part of Lake County.
were considered as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman,
and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect, discussed making it a regional
park. With industry advancing from the south, sand mining ravaging the
dunes and parts of the surrounding countryside succumbing to pasture
and homesteads, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in
In 1948, the state
acquired the first parcels of what is now Illinois Beach State
Park. In 1950, the Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established
to protect the natural qualities of the area. Through its efforts
and the efforts of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach
Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve. The
northern unit, from the Commonwealth Edison power plant to the Wisconsin
border, was acquired between 1971 and 1982.
Easy access to Lake
Michigan makes this park a relaxing and enjoyable place to picnic with
the family. Both the northern and southern units of the park contain
ample picnic grounds, complete with tables.
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 on-line at www.reserveamerica.com and will only be accepted from 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.
accessible campsites are present in the campground near the accessible restrooms
and a dump station.
Alcohol WILL NOT be permitted on sites 100-123, 200-215, 290-296, 300H & 301, 392H & 391 within the campground. ALCOHOL IS NOT ALLOWED ON THE BEACH, TRAILS, PICNIC AREAS AND/OR SHELTERS. EXCEPTION
- Illinois Beach Resort.
Firewood and ice cream are sold within the campground. Further information is available at the permit booth.
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.
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.
Bikers can travel
between the North and South units of Illinois Beach State Park by
the Zion Bike Trail, a section of trail connecting 29th Street at the
south end to 17th Street at the north end.
For comfortable accommodations,
the 96-room Illinois Beach
Resort and Conference Center is the perfect place to get
away for a weekend or week-long vacation. The hotel features a handicap
accessible restaurant, cocktail lounge,
video game room, an olympic-size indoor heated swimming pool and a giant
whirlpool. A full service health club includes exercise equipment
sauna. Conference facilities include fully equipped private rooms for
banquets and meetings that can accommodate up to 500 people comfortably.
For additional information or to make reservations call (847) 625-7300.
While in the area,
be sure to visit North Point Marina. Located 5 miles north of Illinois
Beach, this full-service marina has 1,500 slips, a boat service center
and food concession. For additional information about slip rental, write
the Department of Natural Resources, North Point Marina, 701 North Point
Drive, Winthrop Harbor, IL 60096 or call (847) 746-2845.
From the South are:
I-294 north to Rt 173 east (approx 8 miles) to Sheridan Road. Make a right
on Sheridan Road to Wadsworth Road, make a left and you will be in the
From the North are:
I-94 South to Rt. 173, east on Rt.173 to Sheridan Road, right on Sheridan
Road to Wadsworth Road and make a left on Wadsworth into the Park.
- While groups of 25 or
more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required
to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling
- At least one responsible
adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on
leashes at all times and clean up after them.
- Actions by nature can
result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park
office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your
stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.