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Illinois State Parks

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USA Parks
Northern Region
Apple River Canyon State Park
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Apple River Canyon State Park Cave © Kevin Coppolino
Came across this structure while wading the river. Seems like it might have been made during the civil war era or earlier. Or just a naturally made cave.
Apple River Canyon State Park © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park Gone fishin © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park Its a jungle out there © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park On the river © Kevin Coppolino
Great fishing and scenery. You cant go wrong with apple river fishing
Apple River Canyon State Park Its a jungle out there © Kevin Coppolino
This picture reminds me of the amazon jungle not illinois
Apple River Canyon State Park © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park Erosion at its best © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park © Kevin Coppolino
Apple River Canyon State Park Scenic overlook © Kevin Coppolino
Scenic overlook at the campground
Apple River Canyon State Park © Kevin Coppolino
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8763 East Canyon Road
Apple River, Illinois   61001
(lat:42.4468 lon:-90.0529) map location

Phone: 815-745-3302
Reservations: 815-745-3302
Email: park email button icon
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest art of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. This scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of Apple River. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area which was once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies.

The 297-acre park was purchased by the State of Illinois in 1932. Apple River is also in charge of other sites in JoDaviess County, Apple River Canyon State Park - Thompson and Salem Units, Witkowsky Wildlife Area, Tapley Woods, Hanover Bluff Natural Area, Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve, Wards Grove Nature Preserve, McKeague Unit Nature Preserve and Falling Down Prairie.
Nature of the Area
Flowing endlessly for countless centuries, the Apple River has cut through the masses of limestone, dolomite and shale until massive cliffs now rise high above the water and canyons have formed. Vast ages of water and erosion widened and deepened the crevices as rivers and streams cut their way through the stone. Close-up views of the colorful canyon reveal walls dotted with mosses, lichens and tenacious bushes which have found crevices to hold their roots on the sheer walls.

The glacial sweep which ironed out hills and filled valleys in other parts of the state left this area unscratched. This circumstance accounts for the large number of fossil remains to be found near the surface here. It also was responsible for the easy availability of the lead veins that has much to do with the early development of this section of Illinois.

The park contains such wildlife as deer, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, eagles, hawks and 47 varieties of birds. At least 14 different ferns and over 500 different herbaceous plants and 165 varieties of flowers can be seen throughout the park.
History of the Area
Joutel, who was in the Mississippi Valley in 1687 and who was later to record LaSalle's expedition, wrote tales of Indian lead mines told by travelers to the "Upper Mississippi." The first white man to see the lead mines was Nicholas Perrot, a French trader who settled on the east side of the Mississippi in 1690. The first to exploit them was a Scotch adventurer, John Law. His Company of the West, founded in Paris in 1717 on the fraudulent claim that the Illinois lead mines were well-developed, collapsed with a thud, which was heard all over France and went down in history as the "Mississippi Bubble." In the nineteenth century American settlers arrived, the Sauk and Fox Indians were driven out in the Black Hawk War and Galena, thriving on the profits of lead mining, became a roaring boom town. Miners by the hundreds entered this country through a canyon which is now one of the principal attractions of the Apple River Canyon State Park.

The town of Millville was established where the park is now, but not a trace of it remains. Named after its two sawmills, Millville became a stop on the Galena-Chicago stage route and flourished until 1854 when the Illinois Central Railroad, building its line from Freeport to Galena, passed four miles north of the town. In 1892 a devastating flood washed out the dam, swept away many buildings and drove out the people of the town forever.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Electric Sitesyes
 Full Hookup Sitesyes
Apple River Canyon State Park offers 49 Class C sites without showers in the Canyon Ridge Campground and 6 group sites in the Walnut Grove Youth Campground.
The Apple River has a variety of fish including smallmouth bass, sunfish, crappie, carp and suckers. The river is one of several in the state where the Illinois Department of Natural Resources releases keeper-size trout. Trout require clean, clear, cold water and in the spring, Apple River meets these requirements in the spring, however, the fish do not survive through the hot summer months, so the stream is stocked for seasonal trout fishing seasons.

Apple River Canyon State Park is

Four picnic areas with tables, grills, accessible drinking water and toilets may be found along the river?s banks. There are also three shelters, two are handicap accessible. The reservation form is available on this website or may be obtained by contacting the park office.
Hunting is available in the Thompson and Salem Units, Iris and Jack Witkowsky Wildlife Area , Tapley Woods Natural Area, Hanover Bluff Natural Area, Wards Grove Nature Preserve, Rall Woods Natural Area, and Winston Tunnel Natural Area.
Five trails - Pine Ridge, Tower Rock, River Route, Sunset and Primrose Trail (handicap accessible) - wind through the woods for several miles within the park.
Area Attractions
Discover JoDaviess County with Wineries, Antique Shops, Riverboat Cruises, 10 Golf Courses, Historic Sites and Museums, Spa Services and excellent Dining all within 30 minutes of Apple River Canyon State Park. For more information, contact the JoDaviess County Visitors Bureau at 877-464-2536 or at

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
April 8 majestic
park review stars; one to five I visit the park several times a has diferent veiws every visit thrue out the season..very majestict...every one u meet at the park and surounding areas r very nice...only 2.5 hrs from will be blown away when u see it...butiful cant say enough..mark a.
June 21 A Nice, Peaceful Campground
park review stars; one to five My girlfriend and I camped here last Halloween weekend. The park is very peaceful and quiet. Everything was very clean. Campsites are nice and shaded. Trees are everywhere. The hiking trails have good views and are of easy or medium difficulty. The river is very pretty as well. Photos of all the campsites can be found at to help you make a decision about camping here. There are no showers here, but otherwise it is an excellent place to camp and get away.
August 28 Best place to relax by Raven
park review stars; one to five My husband and I have been coming here for the past 4 years and love it! Its quiet, the sites are private, large and wooded, the staff is friendly, and the even when the park is full on weekends, most everyone there is respectful of others. However in the past month (since it was aired on the WGN) I have found that there are quiet a few adventure seekers who are also less than courteous to others and the park its self. There have been people there with large rafts and ATVs. The park has no such places to use these things and the campers who have been bringing them have been disrespecting the park and its guests. Some sites have become mud pits, bathrooms have been trashed, dogs are left unleashed and not monitored (I was followed to the bathroom by one) and garbage has been left in many places (sites, trails, fishing spots. etc.) Hopefully after this year, those that saw it on the news will have realized that this park is not the adventure camp they were looking for and leave the place for those that love and respect it. This place is for you if you are looking for: -Rustic and quiet camping and the feeling like you are all alone in the woods. -Trails that can be traveled in about an hour and at times can be difficult for the novice but enjoyable -A place to take amazing photos that you would not expect to find in Illinois -A quiet fishing place for both bobber and bottom fishing and fly fishing. ----------- Not for you if you are looking for: -Amenities... Pit toilets only, no sinks or showers (wells only) -Rafting adventures -ATV or offroading trails
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Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
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Relax in the rustic beauty and comfort of Starved Rock Lodge, Cabins and Starved Rock Inn. The historic Lodge has 69 guest rooms, which include three bay-window rooms, plus cabins nestled in the woods. Fireplaces can be found in four of the eight sunset cabins near the pool area...
95.2 miles from park*
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You will feel right at home when you reach Carroll County, our corner of beautiful Northwest Illinois. The magnificent Mississippi River and outdoor spaces will refresh your spirit and touch our soul.
21.9 miles from park*
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Hickory Hideaway - Shannon, IL
Cottages and Cabins
More than just lodging, it's home to 12 cabins located on 10 wooded acres just minutes from Lake Carroll approximately 30 minutes from beautiful state parks such as Mississippi Palisades, Lake Le-Aqua- Na, White Pines Forest, Rock Cut, Morrison-Rockwood. A romantic whirlpool cabin with fireplace or country kitchenette can accommodate everything from intimate parties to family reunions. Enjoy our friendly atmosphere beside the bonfire or in our 8-person hot tub.
22.9 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels

Apple River Canyon State Park is located 2 ? hours west of Chicago. Take I-90 West to US Rt. 20 located by Rockford. Take US Rt. 20 West for approximately 50 miles to Rt. 78 North. Turn right onto Rt. 78, go 6 miles to Canyon Road. Take a left on Canyon Road. The park is well signed on Rt. 20 and Rt. 78.

Apple River Canyon State Park is located in the Northwest corner of Illinois. If you are traveling from the south, you can take I-39 to Rockford, then US Rt.20 West to Rt. 78 North, go 6 miles to Canyon Road, take a left on Canyon Road. The Park is well signed on Rt. 20 and Rt. 78.

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Illinois State Parks