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Illinois State Parks

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USA Parks
Northern Region
Lowden State Park
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Lowden State Park Castle Rock State Park © Tracy Barnett
This is actually Castle Rock State Park, but there was not a drop list item for that park.
Lowden State Park Castle Rock State Park © Tracy Barnett
This is actually Castle Rock State Park, but there was not a drop list item for that park.
Lowden State Park Blackhawk © Chris McCormick
Blackhawk Statue overlooks the Rock River near Oregon,Il. on a windy spring afternoon.
Lowden State Park © Pamela L. Ridgley
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1411 North River Road
Oregon, Illinois   61061

Phone: 815-732-6828
Reservations: 815-732-6828
Email: park email button icon
One of the most picturesque sites along the Rock River is just north of Oregon in Ogle County. Legend has it that Chief Black Hawk, as he left the area after the Black Hawk War, talked of the beauty of the area and admonished his captors to care for the land as he and his people had. Lowden State Park was established not only to care for the land but to allow visitors to share in the beauty as well. The park serves as a memorial to Gov. Frank O. Lowden, who served Illinois during World War I.

You can enjoy many wonderful views of the Rock River from the park, but the best view of the statue is from Illinois Route 2. Just north of Oregon, the bluffs are graced with a majestic image of an American Indian gazing over the Rock River Valley. This is no ordinary statue. It is a 50 foot, concrete-reinforced wonder that is awe-inspiring. A tribute to all Native Americans, but more commonly associated with Chief Black Hawk, the statue was designed by sculptor Lorado Taft. The setting sun seems to bring the statue to life, but it is a spectacular view any time of the day.
History of the Area
Chicago attorney Wallace Heckman, who was also assistant manager of the University of Chicago, purchased the land in 1898 that was to become Lowden State Park. He and his wife had developed a great love of the outdoors while college students. In Chicago society, the Heckmans also became patrons of the arts. They combined these two interests in an artists' colony they established on their Rock River property. The colony was called "Eagles' Nest," referring to a tall, dead cedar tree that clung to the high river bank. The bare outstretched limbs of the tree inspired Margaret Fuller, a poet of the Concord Group, to write the poem,"Ganymede to His Eagle."

For nearly 50 years, Eagles' Nest was a popular home for creative people. The original group included artists Ralph Clarkson, Charles Francis Browne and Oliver Dennet Grove; writers Hamlin Garland, Henry B. Fuller and Horace Spencer Fiske; architects Irving D. and Allen B. Pond; sculptors Lorado Taft and Nellie Walker; organist Clarence Dickinson; and University of Chicago Secretary James Spencer Dickerson. Although Taft was the moving spirit behind the colony, it continued to flourish until 1942, six years after his death.

About a year after the last of the artists and their families left the colony, Gov. Lowden died, and the legislature appropriated $25,000 toward the cost of a memorial to him. The citizens of Oregon and the vicinity, with help from the Department of Natural Resources, matched that amount so that the former Eagles' Nest land could be purchased as a memorial park. In 1945, the 63rd General Assembly designated the 273-acre site as Lowden State Park.

Six years later, the 66 acres that composed the actual Eagles Nest Colony were transferred to Northern Illinois University at DeKalb for use as a outdoor teacher education program. The site, called the Lorado Taft Field Campus, was renovated by NIU's Industrial Arts classes and is used year-round for conducting natural science classes in an outdoor setting.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
 Electric Sitesyes
Individual and group camping sites include limited electricity, a shower building, and a sanitary dumping station for trailers. During the summer, a refreshment stand provides cool drinks and snacks. Please contact park staff upon arrival for a camping permit.
Nearby Accommodations
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White Pines Inn - Mt Morris, IL
Cottages and Cabins
Located within White Pines Forest State Park in Northwestern Illinois, hidden away in a place that seems like time forgot, discover the historic lodge restaurant, pioneer guest cabins, delightful country gift shop, and entertaining dinner theatre.
6.8 miles from park*
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White Pines Inn - MOUNT MORRIS, IL
Cottages and Cabins
We would like to welcome you to the lodge and cabins at White Pines Inn. Located in Illinois White Pines State Park, there are 385 acres of peace and tranquility waiting for you here, with miles of hiking trails to explore the wonders of nature.
6 miles from park*

Lowden State Park is located near Dixon, Rochelle and Rockford

You can enjoy the beauty of Lowden State Park any time of the year, and the picnic areas are open year-round. Conveniently located near the parking lots, the areas include tables, drinking water, park stoves, outdoor toilets and litter cans.
Area Attractions
The Statue:

Lorado Taft, who created the 50-foot statue as a tribute to Native Americans, is said to have thought of the figure one evening as he and other members of the Eagles' Nest colony stood gazing at the view from the bluffs. According to a story attributed to Taft, he and his colleagues tended to stand with their arms folded over their chests. The pose made him think of the Native Americans who were so reverent of the beauty of nature and who probably had enjoyed the same view.

With the help of John G. Prasuhn, a young sculptor of the Chicago Art Institute, Taft created a figure almost 50 feet tall, including a six-foot base. Reinforced with iron rods, the hollow statue is eight inches to three feet thick. The interior is accessible to park employees through a door at the base. The outer surface composed of cement, pink granite chips and screenings, is three inches thick.

The figure is estimated to weigh 100 tons and is thought to be the second largest concrete monolithic statue in the world. Although Taft dedicated the statue to Native Americans, it has become commonly associated with Black Hawk.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
July 31 My favorite field trip I ever took. by Lynn Bedwell
park review stars; one to five I came here in the 7th grade for a 3 day field trip. I had so much fun, I saw a white tailed buck deer while we were walking through the woods to go down to the rock river, loved the statue. and loved all the other areas of Lorado Taft. I loved the arts and crafts area. I am hoping to bring my niece and nephew here sometime so they can see what I got to see when I was in the 7th grade. I think the park is so huge and so much fun. I loved staying in the cabins when I was in the 7th grade, I stayed in the Grover. So nice in the cabin but takes a long time for it too cool down in there. have to open every window in the cabin to cool it down. The should install some ceiling fans in the cabin to help cool the cabin down faster and to put blinds on the windows too, just to keep the heat of the sun out of the cabin too. I came here in 1996.
June 26 Love this place! Grew up here.
park review stars; one to five All my childhood memories were left here along with all my families. Now i bring my nieces and newphews to camp here. I plan to bring my children to camp here. Great views very relaxing and clean. Will go back every summer god willing!
April 30 A nice, small state park by Day tripper
park review stars; one to five We visited the park yesterday and found it to be a nice, but pretty small, park. Very quiet (during the week, at least), with just four miles of fairly easy hiking trails. The statue is impressive, but not too many other things to see or do in the park. Not a bad day trip if you want a quick escape to the country.
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Area Campgrounds
Lake LaDonna
1302 S Harmony Road
Oregon, IL
Lake Louise Campground
8840 Route 2
Bryon, IL
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...
52.3 miles from park*
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Cottages and Cabins
Within a 10 minute drive from Starved Rock and even closer to Matthiessen State Parks you will find a gorgeous, tranquil property with spacious cabins on 50 wooded acres. All with full kitchens and outdoor fire pits. 3 dog friendly.
58.6 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.
26.5 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.
43.4 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels

Lowden Memorial State Park can be reached from I-39 and I-88.If traveling north or south on I-39, exit #104 on Rt 64 west 16 miles to Oregon, take River Rd. right two miles to Park.

If traveling west on I-88 , exit on to I-39 north five miles to Exit #104, Rt 64 west 16 miles to Oregon. Right on River Rd two miles to Park.

If traveling east on I-88, exit at Dixon on Rt #26 north to Rt 2 in Dixon. Take Rt 2 north 18 miles to Oregon. Take Rt #64 in Oregon east across Rock River. Left on River Rd two miles to Park.

If traveling south on Rt 2 to Oregon, left on Rt 64 across Rock River. Left on River Rd two miles to Park.

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Illinois State Parks