Parks and Nature
A sprawling riverfront park, located on Ottawa's Rt. 71 that offers boat launches, docks, a riverwalk, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic tables, toboggan run and an ampitheater.
Baker Lake Park offers fishing, picnicking, playground, shelters, restrooms, soccer field and a 1 mile paved walking path.
Buffalo Rock State Park
This beautiful State Park features two expansive trail systems, offering hikers an unbeatable view of the Illinois River and the surrounding forest. You'll also find the Effigy Tumuli, five pieces of enormous landscape art by the world renowned Michael Heizer, and two live American Bison on the property!
Catlin County Park
Catlin County Park is a 333-acre park acquired in 1970 by the LaSalle County Conservation District. The park’s well-organized trail system hosts fourteen distinct trails, plus numerous connecting trails. These trails course throughout the park’s habitat, which includes its various streams and ponds. The park’s horse trails are also recognized as some of the best trails in the area. Open May through November.
Dayton Bluffs Preserve
At Ottawa’s Dayton Bluffs you can experience over 100 acres of open prairie in the midst of restoration, the majesty of 150 woodland acres, rugged ravines, glistening water cascades, the beautiful Fox River, sacred Native American burial mounds and the Daniels family pioneer cemetery. This beautiful natural area is Ottawa’s newest preserve, owned by The Conservation Foundation and managed by the City of Ottawa.
Fox River Park and Riverwalk
A paved walking path starts at Fox River Park at East Superior and Champlain Streets and continues to Downtown Ottawa along the Illinois River. The park includes a splash pad, 9-hole disk golf course, playground, shelter, docks, boat launch, fishing area, and more.
Hopalong Cassidy River Trail and Canoe Launch
This 0.5 mile trail parallels the swift-flowing water of the Vermilion River. Visitors can follow this trail through urban forest of mulberry, hackberry, oak and maple. Blue jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers flit in and out of the riparian trees as butterflies and dragonflies frolic along the trail’s sunnier stretches.
Illini State Park
Nestled along the Illinois River in Marseilles Illini State Park is a serene hidden gem offering guests the perfect place to hold a picnic or family gathering. This 510-acre park boasts not only incredible views of the river but also 100 plus picturesque campsites a boat ramp for easy river access and ample places for anglers to fish for crappie bass bluegill and catfish.
Lake Mendota Park
Lake Kakusha is a man-made lake with fishing, shelters, picnic areas, and trails.
LaSalle Rotary Park
This 52 acre park features recreation activities for all members of the family, in one convenient location. The park includes soccer fields, adult and youth baseball and softball diamonds, a dog park, a fishing pier, and a wheelchair accessible playground.
Approximately 33 acres of land on the northeast edge of the city was donated for a park in 1919 by the Plumb Family. It is the site of the city’s first drinking water source where a low flow dam was built on Otter Creek. In 2015, a local philanthropist donated an additional 32 acres, increasing the size of Marilla Park to approximately 65 acres. It is home to disc golf, mountain bike trails, picnic shelters and is large enough to accommodate group events.
Matthiessen State Park
Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology, as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife.
Oglesby’s newest park is located on the west side of town. It features a fishing pond with a beautiful pier right off of the walking track. The track is 1/3 mile long with 6 work out stations. There is a playground with baby swings, regular swings, a pirate ship, and bongo drums. McPhedran Park is also pet friendly!
Mitchell’s Grove Nature Preserve
Mitchell’s Grove Nature Preserve is a small but mighty park, and something of a geological oddity! The site contains evidence of glacial gouging and boulder deposition from as far north as Canada! You’ll find a winding creek, tall bluff outcroppings and some rare vegetation. For non-rockhounds, it’s also a popular hunting destination during deer season.
Sandy Ford Nature Preserve
The 200-acre Sandy Ford Preserve, located on the east bank of the Vermilion River, freatures two creeks, a floodplain forest, dry bluffland forest, hill prairies, sandstone cliffs and a selection of uncommon vegitation, more likely to be found in Wisconsin or Canada.
Shabbona County Park
This park, located in rural Earlville, features picnic areas, open fields, rentable shelters and fishing ponds and the beautiful Indian Creek.
Located in Mendota, this 104 acre nature preserve features shelters, restrooms, picnic area and a playground.
Spring Lake Nature Area
Spring Lake Nature Area, located 1.8 miles northwest of Streator, is a 37.2 acre park containing two creeks, a sandstone waterfall, large trail system, and some rare flora and fauna!
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park, one of the Midwest's foremost outdoor recreation destinations, features 18 beautiful canyons with vertical waterfalls, more than 13 miles of scenic trails, sandstone overhangs, and spectacular overlooks. Beyond the lush vegetation, you'll find a first class visitors center, historic lodging destination and family friendly events like guided hikes and classes.
Washington Square Park
Ottawa's Washington Square Park, site of the famed first Lincoln-Douglas Debate, features massive bronze statues of the political titans standing above a beautiful reflecting pool. You'll also find two war memorials and an 1890's popcorn wagon in this beautiful tree-lined park, that holds a spot on the national registry of historic places.