Illinois Beach State Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
Map showing the location of Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
Map showing the location of Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
Map of the Illinois showing the location of Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
LocationLake County, Illinois, United States
Nearest cityZion, Illinois
Coordinates42°25′02″N 87°48′42″W / 42.41722°N 87.81167°W / 42.41722; -87.81167Coordinates: 42°25′02″N 87°48′42″W / 42.41722°N 87.81167°W / 42.41722; -87.81167
Area4,160 acres (1,683 ha)
Visitors1.2 million (in 2015)[1]
Governing bodyIllinois Department of Natural Resources
Official nameChiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain
Designated25 September 2015
Reference no.2243[2]
Shoreline along the Northern Unit
Main beach in the Southern Unit

Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park is part of the Illinois state park system and is located along Lake Michigan in Winthrop Harbor, Zion, Beach Park and unincorporated Benton Township in northeast Illinois. Together with lands to the north, including Chiwaukee Prairie, it forms the Chiwaukee Prairie Illinois Beach Lake Plain, an internationally recognized wet-land of importance under the Ramsar Convention.[2] The park is broken into two units that encompass an area of 4,160 acres (1,683 ha) and contains over six miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

Recreational activities at the park include boating, swimming, hiking, bicycling, camping, bird watching, and picnicking.[3] Known primarily for the beach, the park also includes dune areas, wetlands, prairie, and black oak savanna. The area at the far southern end of the park is a designated nature preserve, which was named a National Natural Landmark in 1980.[4]


The park was gradually created starting in 1948 when the state acquired the first parcels. The northern unit, acquired between 1971 and 1982, was previously an Illinois National Guard training facility known as Camp Logan, Illinois. During the American Civil War, Camp Logan was a Union prisoner of war camp.


The park is located in the 12 mile long Zion Beach Ridge Plain. The Zion Beach Ridge Plain is 3,700 years old and composed of curvilinear ridge-and-swale topography. The beach ridges support black oak savanna habitat, while wetlands dominate the swales. The Zion Beach Ridge Plain has been migrating south throughout the late Holocene: the northern portion of the beach ridge erodes; freed sediment is then transported through the dominantly southward littoral drift and deposited on the southern portion of the beach ridge. This erosion and subsequent accretion process created the characteristically curved ridges and swales of the park as the complex migrates south.[5] The northern unit of Illinois Beach State Park experiences rapid rates of erosion, which was exacerbated by the construction of North Point Marina in 1989 and reaches highs of 60 ft per year. The southward migration of the beach ridge plain has been disrupted by the construction of Waukegan Harbor.[6] Erosion in the north unit of the park is exacerbated during periods of high lake level. As Lake Michigan has entered a period near record high lake levels since 2014, the park is experiencing rapid transgression of the shoreline.[1]


The entry to the beach is usually from a parking area on its north side: north of this carpark is usually the most crowded area in the summer time. South, the beach is less crowded and a mile of shoreline extends to an inlet into a wetland. Depending on weather conditions this inlet may be blocked by a berm from the lake waters, and again depending on weather conditions the water inside the berm may be significantly warmer than Lake Michigan which is rather cold until August.


As the South Unit is not in an actual municipality, the police protection is provided by the Lake County Sheriff's Department. The fire and emergency medical services are provided by the Beach Park Fire Department. The water is supplied by the City of Zion, and telephone service is through the Waukegan switch. The North Unit is in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois which provides primary police and fire/emergency medical services. Both properties also fall under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Conservation Police. Water service is also provided by Zion and phone service comes thorough the Zion/Winthrop Harbor switch.



  1. ^ Susnjara, Bob (October 8, 2015). "First deer hunt coming to Illinois Beach State Park". Daily Herald. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. ^ Hammill, Luke. "Swim, camp, fish at Illinois Beach State Park". Chicago Tribune.
  4. ^ "Illinois Beach Nature Preserve". National Natural Landmarks Program. National Park Service. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  5. ^ Larsen, Curtis (1985). "A stratigraphic study of beach features on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan: new evidence of Holocene lake level fluctuations". Environmental Geology Notes. 112.
  6. ^ Terpstra, Paul; Chrzastowski, Michael (Summer 1992). "Geometric Trends in the Evolution of a Small Log-Spiral Embayment on the Illinois Shore of Lake Michigan". Journal of Coastal Research. 8: 603–617.

External links[edit]