Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey
NPS Logo

Remaining Opportunities in Illinois (Vicinity Map) (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)


As summer approaches the southern shores of Lake Michigan and the shallow offshore water begins to store the sun's warmth, the people of Chicago--like people everywhere--begin to long for a place in the sun, preferably on a sandy beach. Happily, beneath the virulent Chicago skyline, the city maintains nearly 16 miles of highly landscaped lake frontage. Designed for intensive use by the area's millions, they are outstanding in every way. On the 11 city beaches, youngsters, teen-agers and adults may fill spare hours with healthy outdoor recreation. Evanston and other shoreline towns also provide for local beach needs, and private clubs and resorts maintain beaches for their patrons.

The Cook County Forest Preserve, preserving a ring of green around Chicago, is known to park and conservation men throughout the country. Its record for providing fine recreation facilities and resisting nonconforming use of Preserve lands is the envy of less fortunate park organizations. The preservation of these natural areas is of inestimable value to all the people of the Chicago area. In like manner, public hunting and fishing grounds, arboretums, reservoirs and city parks are important for the area's recreation needs.

Here, however, is a case where a lot is not enough. The burgeoning population of Chicago--now at an estimated 4 million people--is literally busting its recreation seams. Great numbers of Illinois cars fill the parking lot at Indiana Dunes State Park. The more adventuresome and the solitude seekers have moved out into surrounding states in search of new recreation outlets.

The greater Chicago metropolitan area has occupied nearly all of Illinois' 61 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Only north of Waukegan is there any semblance of natural shoreline. In acquiring two and three-quarter miles of lake frontage in 1948 for the Illinois Beach State Park, the state of Illinois took an active and affirmative hand in assuring the people of Illinois--and in particular those of the Chicago area--a scenic fragment of Lake Michigan for a state park.

Now under way is a fine development program including the construction of a large resort hotel. Natural features, however, are being respected and preserved--the south half of the 1,408-acre park is designated as a nature preserve. This prairie-marsh is wonderfully rich botanically and is a favorite haunt of ornithologists. It should certainly be preserved inviolate.

There is, however, the ominous factor of increasing pressure on existing facilities and space. The park needs to be big enough not just for the present but for the future, and it needs to be maintained in its current natural condition. To assure such results, the park needs to be extended northward to the Wisconsin line to provide for ever expanding use.

Illinois Shore



LOCATION This area lies in Lake County, Illinois along the west shore of Lake Michigan between the Wisconsin state line and Illinois Beach State Park. The study area, involving some 4 miles of shoreline and less than 2,000 acres, lies approximately 45 miles north of Chicago's Loop and about the same distance south of Milwaukee.

DESCRIPTION The beaches along this section of Lake Michigan offer outstanding opportunities to help meet the water recreational requirements of northeast Illinois. Though of varying size, many of the beaches exceed 100 feet in width. Mixed with the fine, white sands are small pebbles that offer no objectionable deterrent to beach use. These sands extend off shore into the moderately shallow waters that border the beach. Warmed by the summer sun, the water offers excellent bathing conditions several months each year.

Low sand ridges border the lake as an ineffective barrier dune. Along the narrow beaches, the stormy Lake Michigan waves frequently cut into this ridge, eroding and refashioning the shore of glacial till.

Inland, marshes occur over the predominately level terrain for a mile back of the shoreline. Breaking the pattern of marshes into fingers are the low sand ridges which were associated with old beach lines. In the marshes a variety of flowering plants abounds, while grasses and other plants serve to stabilize the adjacent sand ridges. Open stands of black oak and other deciduous trees occur sporadically over this old lakebed.

PRESENT USE Lying in the middle of this extension is the state-owned Camp Logan, now used as a training site for the National Guard. Between Camp Logan and the Wisconsin state line is a shoreline of nearly one and one-half miles that is marked by blocks of private home development, some having Lake frontage. South of Camp Logan, a shoreline of one and three-quarter miles extends to the state park with private development in scattered groups. Development in the south portion of the extension is not so extensive as that found to the north.

ANALYSIS This Illinois beach, together with its immediate environs, possesses potential recreational features capable of meeting the pressing public use requirements of nearby metropolitan areas. The addition of this area to the Illinois Beach State Park allows the expansion of existing recreational facilities to meet these needs without destroying the fine natural area already present in the existing park.

Illinois Beach Extension

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 27-Jun-2007