Select Illinois state parks have reopened -- sort of
The reopening of some Illinois state parks is good news for hikers, bikers and bird watchers. But those who want to camp, picnic or reserve a shelter will have to wait a while longer.
As of Friday, selected parks closed in recent weeks because of the pandemic will now be open from sunrise to sunset daily for hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife observation and mushroom collecting.
However, visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, beaches and concessions are closed and educational programs and special events are canceled. Also, hunting is suspended until further notice as are shelter reservations, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Visitors must adhere to six feet of social distancing and other safety guidelines established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes wearing face coverings.
IDNR officials recommend visiting parks near one's home and visiting alone or with members of one's household only. If crowds are present, officials ask that visitors leave and return another day. They also advise carrying alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Sites that have partially reopened include the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Ingleside. Initially named Sayer Bog after original owner, dairy farmer George Sayer, the 47.5 acre bog was purchased for $40,000 in 1958 by the Nature Conservancy's Illinois chapter. It was dedicated as a nature preserve in 1970 and designated a national natural landmark three years later.
The Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park and the North Point Marina in Zion have also partially reopened. Set on Lake Michigan's shore, the park stretches more than six miles and is home to more than 650 species of plants, including prickly bear cactus, wildflowers and cattail along with assorted grasses and flowering plants.
Other options include the Chain O' Lakes State Park in Spring Grove. Located in McHenry and Lake counties and known as a "water wonderland," Chain O' Lakes has four trail systems including eight miles of equestrian trails and six miles of biking and hiking trails.
Note, Morraine Hills State Park in McHenry and Bartlett's James "Pate" Philip State Park -- named for the Wood Dale Republican and former Illinois Senate president -- have not yet reopened.
Here's a list of other recently reopened IDNR sites:
• Region 1 (Northwest Illinois): Argyle Lake State Park, Jubilee College State Park, Lowden State Park, Morrison-Rockwood State Park, Rock Island Trail and the Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area.
• Region 2 (Northeastern Illinois): Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park/North Point Marina, Chain O' Lakes State Park, Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail (includes the Buffalo Rock, Channahon, Gebhard Woods and William G. Stratton state parks), Kankakee River State Park and Moraine Hills State Park.
• Region 3 (East Central Illinois): Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, Eagle Creek State Park, Kickapoo State Recreation Area and the Wolf Creek State Park.
• Region 4 (West Central Illinois): Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area, Sangchris Lake State Park, Siloam Springs State Park and the Washington County State Recreation Area.
• Region 5 (Southern Illinois): Fort Massac State Park, Giant City State Park, Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area and the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area.
For more information, see www2.illinois.gov/dnr.