15 of the best places in Illinois for fall foliage

Kevin HoffmanReboot Illinois

October 06, 2016

As the deep green colors of summer change into the vibrant red, orange and yellow hues of fall, there are certain places in Illinois where witnessing this transformation is unparalleled.

Unfortunately, the season is short and it’s difficult for most people to truly appreciate the autumn landscape when you’re cooped up at work all week.

So if you want to take in the fall foliage before it’s too late, here are 15 places in Illinois where you can see fall colors like you never have before.

article image Credit: Flickr/S Demmer

Chicago Botanic Gardens


With 27 gardens and four natural areas spanning 385 acres and six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, Chicago Botanic Garden arguably is one of the best places in the Chicagoland area to take in the fall colors.

article image Credit: Flickr/Steeleman204

Lowden State Park


Considered one of the most picturesque sites along the Rock River, this park has four miles of trails and plenty of great views of the river. And of course, the iconic 50-foot Chief Black Hawk statue.

article image Credit: IDNR

Argyle Lake State Park


Known for its fishing, this 1,700-acre, heavily wooded state park also has five miles of foot trails that wind through its virgin forests.

article image Credit: Flickr/Steve Johnson

Mississippi Palisades State Park


Wooded ravines, sprawling bluffs with limestone caves and 15 miles of trails make this state park a perfect place to immerse yourself among the vibrant orange, red and yellow hues of autumn.

article image Credit: Flickr/karas hall

Silver Springs State Fish & Wildlife Area


A great park to visit no matter the season, its 45-acre prairie restoration area allows visitors to see what the landscape looked like before the state’s first settlers arrived. Towering oak trees dot the four-mile trail that overlooks the park’s manmade lakes.

article image Credit: Facebook/Forest Park Nature Center

Forest Park Nature Center

Peoria Heights

Tucked away in the forested bluffs along the Illinois River is this 500-acre nature preserve. It has more than seven miles of trails that cut through dense woods and along rolling hillsides.

article image Credit: Flickr/Sandeep Pawar

Wadsworth Wetlands Restoration Project


A project dedicated to restoring the wetlands that once thrived in the area as well as the wildlife that depends on it, this is a must-see for anyone in northeastern Illinois near the Wisconsin border.

article image Credit: americantrails.org

Tunnel Hill State Trail


Stretching 45 miles from Harrisburg to Karnak, Tunnel Hill State Trail is one of the most well-known trails for outdoor enthusiasts and cyclists in southern Illinois.

article image Credit: Flickr/Peter Ciro

Starved Rock State Park


By far one of the most popular state parks in Illinois, Starved Rock has 13 miles of trails, awe-inspiring views and scenic waterfalls, including the well-known St. Louis Canyon and LaSalle Canyon Falls.

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Morton Arboretum


Another must-see place in the Chicagoland area, the Morton Arboretum spans 1,700 acres and is home to 4,100 different species of trees, shrubs and other plants — a perfect place to appreciate fall foliage.

article image Credit: elevation.maplogs.com

Long Hollow Scenic Overlook


Located along the Great River Road on U.S. Highway 20, this overlook is an ideal spot to ponder while looking out over the gorgeous rolling countryside of Jo Daviess County.

article image Credit: Flickr/Logan Ward

Matthiessen State Park


A few miles south of Starved Rock, Matthiessen State Park might not get the attention it deserves. But it definitely doesn’t disappoint visitors with its stunning rock formations and thick and unique vegetation.

article image Credit: IDNR

Castle Rock State Park


Situated on the left bank of the Rock River in Ogle County, Castle Rock State Park features riveting ravines, rock formations and a lofty sandstone bluff that gives the park its name.

article image Credit: Flickr/Eric Bueneman

Pere Marquette State Park


A gem in southern Illinois, Pere Marquette State Park is made up of 8,050 acres of wooded ravines and riverside roadways, making it perfect for autumn drives and awesome views of the Illinois River.

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Garden of the Gods

Shawnee National Forest

Last but certainly not least is Garden of the Gods in the 3,300-acre Shawnee National Forest. Carved by erosion over millions of years, the stunning and surreal sandstone sculptures make Garden of the Gods one of the most incredible nature spots in the Midwest.

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