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Enjoy Illinois

 Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach - State Park   

Northeast Region Shoreline of Illinois Beach

Lake Front / Park Office
Zion, IL 60099
Fax: 847-662-6433


Illinois Beach State Park Facebook Page

Park Hours:
anuary - December: Sunrise - Sunset


Site Map Directions North Point Marina
Alcohol Ban Fishing Pets
Beach - Daily Updates Hiking Picnicking
Biking History Swimming
Camping Lodge Trails

-  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.

Bike Trail at Illinois Beach
Sandy Dune at Illinois Beach
Bright Yellow Fall Sunflowers at Illinois Beach
Fisherman at Illinois Beach
Sunrise over Lake at Illinois Beach

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!

Stretching leisurely 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 and vegetation.

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 conservation.

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 and events.


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.

Preservation efforts 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 the 1920s.

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.

Camping | Campground Map

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.

Three handicap accessible campsites are present in the campground near the accessible restrooms and a dump station.

Alcohol Ban

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 Beach

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.

Bike Trail

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.


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 and 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.

North Point Marina

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 park.

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 conflicts.
  • 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.

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