You can have great adventures in the great outdoors, but what makes up the “great outdoors” in Illinois?
It’s rolling, forested hills in northwestern Illinois.
In northeastern Illinois it is moraines, lakes and peatlands formed by glaciers. It’s also Lake Michigan and its dunes and beaches. Prairies and marshes are in northeastern Illinois, too.
Much of the central part of the state is flat land. Glaciers moved over this land. Prairies developed here.
Western Illinois has forested hills. A different type of forest exists in sections of east central and southern Illinois. This forest is a remnant of the beech-maple forest of the eastern United States.
Caves are present in southwestern and southern Illinois.
The upland, wooded hills of the Shawnee National Forest and the remains of a vast system of swamps are located in southern Illinois.
Lakes, ponds and streams occur throughout Illinois. Rocky bluffs and forested bottomlands are present along rivers. Areas of sand border many of our larger rivers. Sloughs, marshes and oxbow lakes are often found along rivers, too. Carlyle Lake, Rend Lake and Lake Shelbyville are the three largest humanmade reservoirs in the state. Wetlands can be found statewide and are productive wildlife habitat areas.
Urban habitats are part of the great outdoors, too. From ground-level to the rooftop, there are many ways to enjoy the great outdoors in our cities.
The variety of life in Illinois is tremendous. What can you look for in the great outdoors? There are trees, wildflowers, ferns, mosses, grasses, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, insects, spiders, rocks, minerals and fossils. If you use a magnifying glass, you can find even more to amaze you. Be sure to get outdoors at different times of the year to see the changes that occur seasonally.
Some of the best places to visit the great outdoors are Illinois’ state parks. You can learn more about them and what they have to offer at our park Web page
. You could make it a goal to visit all of them!
You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time to experience the great outdoors. You can explore your backyard or neighborhood park. Balconies often have insects and spiders to observe. A rooftop garden presents additional opportunities for being outside. Invite your friends to join you. Whether you take part in a sport, go for a walk, camp in a state park, look for insects or lie on your back and watch the clouds, being outdoors can be a pleasurable experience for people of all ages.