Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park stretches 6.5 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan in northern Illinois – offers a full range of recreation opportunities at one of the most unique and beautiful natural settings in America.
Illinois Beach is the only remaining beach ridge shoreline left in the state, with dunes and swales, sprawling marshes, forests of oak, and vast arrays of animal life and vegetation.
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, grasses, big bluestem and sedges.
The sandy ridges are crowned by black oak forests with an open, savanna-like appearance. For much of the year, a stream known as Dead River is blocked by sandbars formed by waves at the mouth of the river, creating a sluggish marshy habitat.
The 4,160-acre park, consisting of two separate areas (North Unit and South Unit), offers ample opportunities for swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping and simply appreciating nature.
In addition to swimming beaches, trails and campgrounds, the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center is the perfect place to get away for a weekend or a weeklong vacation.
Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
Lake Front – Park Office
Zion IL 60099
8 am to 8 pm, camping is allowed
How To Get There
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.
*Note: Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach doesn’t have its own social media and FB account. Instead it uses Illionis State Parks for announcement and notices.
Suggested Equipment for Adeline Jay Geo Karis Illinois Beach State Park Adventures:
The following activities within the park should be done with utmost caution. Make sure that you have the proper protective gear and equipment necessary to make your adventures safe and accident-free. We advise you to read the TIPS underneath each activity to serve as a guide on what you may need to bring in order to enjoy your stay fully.
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.
No Possession or Consumption of Alcohol allowed on any site in the Campground.
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 online at ExploreMoreIL and will only be accepted for 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.
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.
Illinois Beach State Park is one of the premier places to view bird migration in the Midwest. The area is an important stopover point for migrating songbirds to rest and refuel before they continue with their spring and fall migrations. During fall and winter, you’ll also see migrating waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.
Hawks, including Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Northern Harriers, Broad-winged, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Swainson’s have been found here, along with other raptors including, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels, and occasionally Goshawks and Golden Eagles. Look for large numbers of migrating hawks in the fall. While migrating, raptors like hawks depend on updrafts to help them conserve energy by soaring. Since updrafts are absent over large bodies of open water, migration over the Great Lakes can be a challenge for them.
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.
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.
Boating / Kayaking
Bring your own kayak or you can rent a boat at North Point Marina.
North Point Marina is located next to Illinois Beach, this full-service marina has 1,500 slips, a boat service center and food concession.
Easy access to Lake Michigan makes Illinois Beach State 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.
Alcohol is prohibited at Illinois Beach State Park.
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.
Groups of 25 – 60 must have a picnic permit. Please call the park office for more information at (847) 662-4811.
Leave No Trace
Illinois State Parks are proud community partners of LEAVE NO TRACE CENTER FOR OUTDOOR ETHICS. Everyone is advised to comply with the following:
PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE
TRAVEL AND CAMP ON DURABLE SURFACES
DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY
LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
MINIMIZE CAMPFIRE IMPACTS
BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER VISITOR
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.
Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park is a must-visit state park in Illinois. Check out other state parks in Illinois here.