Apple River Canyon State Park, Apple River

4.2
#30 of 60 in Nature in Illinois
Apple River Canyon State Park is an Illinois state park on in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, United States. The park was begun with land purchased by the state in 1932, as a result of a prolonged campaign led by botanist Herman Silas Pepoon; with additional acquisitions since, of land have been preserved to protect much of an 8+1/2mi long canyon on the Apple River.The river canyon is part of the Driftless Area of Illinois, a region that was bypassed by the last ice age; "the glacial sweep which ironed out hills and filled valleys in other parts of the state left this area unscratched". During the dramatic events that surrounded the end of the last Ice Age, the Apple River, which once flowed eastward into the Pecatonica River, reversed its original course and began to flow southwest through an erosion gorge to the Mississippi. The result is a deep canyon, part of which is preserved in the Park.The Apple River Canyon State Park, and the Land and Water Reserve within the park, offers hiking, fishing, and hunting on parcels of gorge land. There are several hiking trails through the woods with nice views of the river and bluffs, and a tent campground. Smallmouth bass live in the river.
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Apple River Canyon State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
41 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • We have been visiting this park for years, taking our small children on adventures that are hidden from the typical trails. Our children are now teenagers who now show their friends the local secrets!...  more »
  • While not a huge park, it is beautiful!! Not a lot of foot traffic here which is kinda nice!! HOWEVER....they do not have the trails marked well ( there are an abundance of rabbit trails) and I could ...  more »
  • We never really found the best parking lot where we could figure out all the trail options in the canyon. We attempted the 'sunset' trail, which was fairly moderate in difficulty - narrow, dirt path, ...  more »
Google
  • This place is amazing. Its popularity is growing and you must take advantage of its exclusivity while you can. It's a secrete well kept. Great to visit any time. The river is small and has a low current, but it's nice to get in and fish. Great star gazing spot. A lot of good spots to take sky pics.
  • I can't wait to come back home tomorrow because Apple canyon is my home
  • I went to hike, but had a hard time locating the trails. Many of the trailheads are unmarked and most of the trails just sort of disappear at some point into the woods. I did find a sign that listed the trails at one point, but the map attached wasn't very accurate. Apparently I wasn't crazy most of the trails had parts washed out during the flooding this year and do just sort of end with you standing in the middle of the woods looking at the river. If you are just going for the scenery, it's beautiful. There were some nice picnic shelters and some open areas to relax in. The parts of the trails that existed had lots of benches and picnic tables along them also. The campgrounds (which we accidentally stumbled into when a trail abruptly ended) seemed well maintained. Fishing seems to be one of the primary reasons to go (as well as hunting which I found out when I was already very deep in the woods).
  • Very nice campground. Well maintained and wonderful staff. The river is a short hike away. Nice fishing spots near by. Bring hand sanitizer or camp soap for the restrooms, there is no sink. We didn't have cell phone service down in the campground area. There is a gas station with a beer cave about 6 miles back towards 20. Have fun!!
  • Beautiful spot! We camped for the weekend in early April and enjoyed the quiet park and the canyon. The campground was clean, with a fire pit and picnic table at each campsite, and the vault toilet was clean and was sanitized every day we were there. (And had toilet paper.) Firewood was available for purchase at a stop just outside the state park, if you're coming from a different part of the state like we did. Staff were really friendly -- Dave even offered to help us move our tent and gear when we decided to swap campsites after the first night.
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