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  Morrison-Rockwood - State Park   

Northwest Region

18750 Lake Road
Morrison, IL 61270

Lake Carlton at Morrison-Rockwood
Site Map Directions Natural Features
Boating Fishing Picnicking
Camping History Trails
Concession Hunting  

A trip to picturesque Morrison-Rockwood State Park offers many memorable experiences. A large sign in the shape of Illinois, fashioned from angle iron by a blacksmith, greets visitors at the entrance. Once inside, choose from a variety of recreational opportunities. Beautiful Lake Carlton, a stream-fed reservoir, features an abundance of ducks and geese and is considered a prime location for fishing. Morrison-Rockwood is a popular spot for a family outing at the Lakeview picnic area or watching birds among the hickory, ash, oak and walnut trees.


Morrison-Rockwood State Park is comprised of 1,164 acres, located north of Morrison in Whiteside County. It was established in 1971 and officially opened for day use that same year. The park is named for the city of Morrison and a combination of nearby Rock Creek and the heavily wooded park area--Rockwood. Lake Carlton, a focal point of the park, is a watershed impoundment constructed in 1969 by building a 38-foot high, 1,800-foot long earthen dam across a stream. The lake was named in memory of L. Carlton Anderson, a local citizen who actively promoted the park and was an important civic and conservation leader. Improvements have continued to be made in the conservation area, making it one of the most popular recreation spots in northern Illinois.

Picnic shelters at Morrison-RockwoodPicnicking | Shelter Reservation Form

While at the park, be sure to visit one of the picnic areas--all equipped with tables and outdoor stoves. Lakeview picnic area offers a beautiful view overlooking Lake Carlton. A pavilion with a fireplace adds to the rustic atmosphere. Electricity is available for those wanting a more modern facility. This shelter, along with the shelter at Cedar Ridge can be reserved for large groups or family reunions.


Camping at Morrison-Rockwood State Park is sure to delight all who love the out-of-doors. Ninety-two camping sites are available in heavily wooded areas of the park, with 59 available for reservation through ReserveAmerica. Each site has electricity, grill and a table. A shower building with flush toilets is available from May 1 through October 31. A trailer dump station is conveniently located near the campground.


Lake Carlton provides one of the best fishing spots in Illinois. Its average depth is 12 feet, with a maximum depth of 27 feet. It has a shoreline of 2.9 miles with plenty of room for shore fishermen. Initial stocking of the lake was completed in 1970 and the lake is managed to maintain a plentiful fishing variety. Anglers may catch largemouth bass, black crappie, rock bass, channel catfish, redear sunfish, bluegill, muskie and walleye. In addition to shoreline fishing, nine piers are designated for anglers.


The hunting area is comprised of timber woodlots, brushy draws and fence line interspersed with open grasslands with corn, milo and sunflower food patches. Topography consists of gently rolling hills and several gullies some of which contain permanent water. Hunter Fact Sheet


A two-lane concrete boat ramp allows easy access to Lake Carlton. Outboard motors are restricted to 10 HP and under, and all boats with motors are to be operated under "no wake" speeds to protect the shoreline from wave erosion. An area is provided for private boat dockage for a small fee payable through the concessionaire.


A 3.5 mile nature trail is marked for hikers, and it offers many scenic views of the lake as it winds through the park. This trail is particularly beautiful in the spring when wildflowers are in bloom. Equestrians may use a 14 mile trail through the park. The trail has a watering well and an overnight camp site with shelter.

Winter sports also are popular. Ice fishing and ice skating are permitted on Lake Carlton when ice conditions permit. Fourteen miles of cross country ski trails will thrill skiing enthusiasts. The rolling hills of the park make great sledding paths if snow cooperates.

Family playing games at parkConcession

Another park amenity is a concession facility offering a vast array of fishing tackle, boat rentals, bait sales, and a dining area that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner or just an ice cream cone. The bait/boat rental business is open May 1st from 7:00 A.M. to Sunset through October 31st. The restaurant is open May 1st from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. through October 31st. Marina and Restaurant Phone Number 815/772-3613.


The park has an abundance of wildlife. Lucky visitors may see rabbits, squirrels, quail, pheasants, foxes, coyotes, muskrats, groundhogs or deer. Ducks and geese are seen often swimming on the lake to the delight of visitors. Bird watchers will not be disappointed at Morrison-Rockwood State Park. There are more than 150 species of birds among the plentiful stands of hardwoods.


Morrison Rockwood State Park can be reached from Chicago by taking the East-West Tollway (I-88) west to IL Rte 78. Go north on Rte 78 thru Morrison and follow the signs. On IL Rte 78 follow the signs to Damen Road. Take it to Crosby Road about 2 miles. Turn left on Crosby Road, again following the signs, to our entrance in about 1.5 miles.

  • 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.
  • 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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