10 Best and Beautiful Waterfalls in Illinois

Waterfalls in Illinois: Illinois lures with a hidden world of cascading waterfalls, each more astonishing than the previous. Stroll through ancient canyons, scramble over moss-covered rocks, and sense the sprinkle of cool mist on your face as you uncover these secret gems.

From the gentle tumbles of family-friendly waterfalls to the roaring plunges of wilderness giants, Illinois‘ waterfalls deliver something for everyone. The charm of Illinois waterfalls goes beyond the iconic titles. Experience off-the-beaten paths and discover hidden gems like Cascade Falls in Matthiessen State Park, its peaceful tumbles are ideal for families.

Look for the Giant’s Bathtub Falls in Giant City State Park, its striking, tub-shaped bay sculpted into the sandstone. And for the souls seeking adventure, explore the mesmerizing Bulge Holes Waterfalls in the Shawnee National Forest, where secret trails direct to secluded waterfalls and swimming spots.

So, are you prepared to undergo the hidden enchantment of Illinois? Lace up your hiking boots, grab your tools for adventure, and get ready to be hypothesised by the cascading magnificence of these natural splendours.

The cascades of Illinois await, whispering mysteries of the wild and asking for you to dance into their refreshing embrace. Here are some of the best waterfalls in Illinois, each with its distinctive allure.

Read more: 18 Best and Amazing Waterfalls in Wisconsin 

1. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Waterfalls in Illinois

This preserve is nestled near Chicago and is residence to Waterfall Glen, a string of waterfalls that gush through a scenic valley. The pathways in the preserve are excellent for hiking and biking, and there are also options for swimming and fishing.

It’s a widespread destination for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and nature fanatics of all ages, unfailingly ranked among the finest outdoor adventures near Chicago.

The centerpiece of the preserve is the marvelous Rocky Glen Waterfall, a tiered awe cascading down Sawmill Creek. With over 11 miles of trails meandering through the preserve, there’s a passage for everyone.

Trek to the top of the ridges and be awarded with astonishing sights of the Des Plaines River Valley and the surrounding countryside. Waterfall Glen exhibits a variety of habitats, from parched savannas and prairies to wooded ravines and marshlands.

This ecological diversity provides for an affluent collection of plant and animal life, creating a shelter for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Beyond hiking and sightseeing, Waterfall Glen allows fishing in Sawmill Creek, a standard aircraft field for amateurs, and a youth group campground for overnight yarns.

Wear comfy shoes convenient for hiking, bring water and snacks, and don’t fail to bring along sunscreen and insect repellent. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is an authentic treasure for nature enthusiasts, offering a multifarious getaway from the rush and bustle of metropolis life.

Best Time to Visit Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Each season brings its magic to Waterfall Glen. Spring displays wildflowers and gushing cascades, summer showcases hiking weather, autumn arrives with vibrant vegetation, and winter transforms the landscape into a snow-covered wonderland.

2. Ferne Clyffe State Park

Waterfalls in Illinois, Ferne Clyffe State Park

This park is situated in southern Illinois and is home to Ferne Clyffe Falls, a 100-foot waterfall that falls into a pool below. The park even has several other hiking tracks, as well as camping and fishing options.

The park is well-known for its picturesque limestone bluffs, having stupendous views and a sense of adventure. Dig through the hidden caves like Big Rocky Hollow and marvel at natural rock figures like The Devil’s Punchbowl.

Take a walk through lush forests to get at cascading waterfalls like Ferne Clyffe Falls and Bork’s Falls, or take a break by the babbling Big Buck Creek. Various plant communities flourish in the park, comprising fern-draped canyons, sandstone glades with rare wildflowers, and upland forests ablaze with fall shades.

Around 20 miles of routes cater to all levels, from family-friendly hikes along the Rebman Trail to challenging treks like the Happy Hollow Trail with scenic outlooks. Engage yourself in nature with varied camping opportunities. Select from contemporary campgrounds with electric hookups at Deer Ridge to primitive campsites located in the forest.

Throw your string in the Big Muddy River or explore stocked lakes and ponds swarming with bass, catfish, and crappie. Relish a picnic lunch or family gathering under the trees at specified picnic sites, or lease a haven for bigger groups. Challenge yourself on the challenging sandstone ridges of the park, a shelter for skilled climbers.

3. Shawnee National Forest

Waterfalls in Illinois, Shawnee National Forest

This forest is encountered in southern Illinois and is home to many waterfalls, comprising the Garden of the Gods, the Little Grand Canyon, and Jackson Falls. Garden of the Gods is a string of cascading waterfalls that stream into a natural arena. The Little Grand Canyon is an inflexible canyon with a waterfall at the bottom. Jackson Falls is a 100-foot waterfall that is enclosed by cliffs.

A unique conjunction of six ecological provinces builds an astonishing tapestry of landscapes. Stroll through rolling hills surrounded by oak-hickory woodlands, explore powerful canyons sculpted by ancient rivers, kayak through cypress marshes teeming with life, and marvel at sandstone cliffs and rock constructions.

Stroll to Garden of the Gods Wilderness or Piney Creek Ravine for stunning sceneries of the Shawnee Hills and ravines. Find cascading waterfalls like Cedar Bluff Falls and Big Creek Falls, and dig through hidden grottoes and wild arches like Devil’s Backbone and Turkey Run.

Set up your tent under the stars at one of the multiple campgrounds, or go for a glamping venture at one of the unique yurts or cottages. Sail down the scenic Cache River or study the hidden treasures of the Lake of Egypt on a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard.

Give off your line for bass, catfish, and crappie in the rivers and lakes, or chase deer, turkey, and other animals in designated hunting provinces. Discover the rich chronology of the Shawnee people who colonized the area for centuries. Stop by zones like Fort Massac, a reconstructed French fort, or scour ancient grave mounds and ceremonial grounds.

Uncover the tales of the early settlers who inscribed lives out of nature and the combatants who battled in the Civil War wars that took place within the forest’s perimeters. Stop by historic places like the Saline Springs State Park and the Golconda Fort.

Shawnee National Forest is a gem waiting to be checked out. With its diverse terrains, rich history, and endless recreational options, it’s the ideal terminus for a weekend breakout or a memorable experience.

The Best time to visit Shawnee National Forest

Each season delivers a distinctive experience. Spring brings along wildflowers and cascading waterfalls, summer supplies ideal weather for outdoor activities, autumn explodes with vibrant vegetation, and winter transforms the forest into a snowy wonderland.

4. Thunder Bay Falls

Waterfalls in Illinois, Thunder Bay Falls

A 40-foot waterfall found in The Galena Territory, a private resort community near Galena, Illinois. The falls are found in a remote region, but there is a short trek to a viewing platform. The cascade is cropped up by the spillway of Lake Galena, a 225-acre man-made lake.

The falls are observable from the public Thunder Bay Road. There is a small parking area along the street where you can leave your vehicle and take a quick trek to the falls. Regardless, be conscious that the falls themselves are on private property, so do not trespass. Hiking, picnicking, and photographing are some of the activities you can do there.

The falls were constructed in the 1970s as an element of the building of Lake Galena, a 225-acre man-made lake. The lake is a well-known spot for fishing, boating, and swimming. The waterfalls are created by the Galena River, which streams over a sandstone cliff. Sandstone is a variety of sedimentary rock that is composed of the erosion of sand and other minerals.

The region around the waterfalls is a shelter for different varieties of flora and fauna, comprising trees, shrubs, wildflowers, birds, and fish. The falls are a popular site for trekking, picnicking, and photography. There is a short route that directs to the falls from the parking area on Thunder Bay Road.

Best Time To Visit Thunder Bay Falls

The falls are extensively noteworthy in the spring season when the water flow is high. There are no washrooms or other facilities at the waterfalls. Be certain to wear shoes with good grip as the track can be slippery.

5. Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls is a picturesque waterfall found in Matthiessen State Park near Oglesby, Illinois. The fall is an aspect of the park’s outstanding geological attributes, characterized by canyons, bluffs, and lush foliage.

Cascade Falls is located in the Dells Area of Matthiessen State Park and is recognized for its scenic beauty. The waterfall itself is about 45 feet in stature and gushes over layers of sandstone, producing a visually spectacular natural waterfall.

Tourists can arrive at Cascade Falls by heeding well-maintained roads that witness the park’s diverse landscapes. The park puts forward a friendly and immersive experience for nature devotees, with prospects for hiking, photography, and being pleased with the serene surroundings.

Matthiessen State Park spans about 1,900 acres, exhibiting manifold terrains comprising sandstone canyons, cliffs, and lush foliage. Cascade Falls is present in the Lower Dells region, popular for its distinctive rock appearances and picturesque views.

Tourists can arrive at the waterfall by seizing the Cascade Falls Trail, a fairly short trek that delivers scenic sights of the park. Matthiessen State Park suggests many activities, such as hiking, birdwatching, and photography. The park provides shelter to a rich variety of flora and fauna species, enriching the overall natural experience.

6. Giant’s Bathtub Falls

Giant’s Bathtub Falls is a waterfall in Matthiessen State Park, Illinois, USA. Although it is not the tallest or most influential waterfall in the park, it’s one of the most charming and impressive, with its name evoking portraits of playful giants spattering around in a giant tub.

It is about 6 feet (1.8 meters). It is located in the Upper Dells region of Matthiessen State Park, close to Lake Falls and Cascade Falls. It is a quick, manageable trek from the main parking lot. The waterfall cascades into a round, pothole-like pool that looks like, well, a giant’s bathtub.

The falls were called by earlier immigrants, who believed the pool corresponded to a giant’s bathtub. The pool is a pothole, which is a void in the rock that has been deteriorated by the water over some time.

Best Time To Visit Giant’s Bathtub Falls

The surrounding rock shapes are also fascinating, with moss-covered walls and overhangs. Giant’s Bathtub Falls is a famous spot for swimming, wading, and picnicking in the summer season. It’s also an attractive place to visit in the fall when the leaves are transforming color. The falls are best seen after heavy downpours when the water is drifting more firmly.

7. Burden Falls

Located within the Shawnee National Forest, this cascade is a famous site known for its scenic magnificence and manageable accessibility.

The looks of Burden Waterfalls extend beyond the gushing water. Dense second-growth hardwood woodlands, teeming with diverse flora and fauna, encircle the falls. Trekking imprints, like the 3.5-mile Burden Falls Trail, wind through this verdant tapestry, giving panoramic sceneries and prospects of encountering the regional wildlife.

The sandstone ledges and ridges that nestle the falls add a dramatic touch to the landscape. Hikers with a sense of adventure can scour these formations, discovering hidden rocks and crannies along the way.

As mentioned before, the 3.5-mile Burden Falls Trail is the central artery for displaying the falls and its surrounding magnificence. Along the way, you’ll encounter instructive indications describing the area’s history, geology, and ecology. After the hike, locate a place near the falls to stretch out a picnic blanket and savor the tranquillity of water and rustling leaves.

The routes can be rough and slippery, so firm-gripped hiking shoes are crucial. Consider the natural beauty of the location by loading out all your waste and minimizing your effect on the environment. Burden Falls, though not the strongest waterfall, proposes a charming getaway into the core of the Shawnee National Forest.

With its seasonal waterfalls, verdant surroundings, and inviting tracks, it’s an excellent goal for a nature enthusiast’s day expedition or a weekend adventure. So tire up your hiking boots, load your curiousness, and get prepared to be enchanted by the spell of Burden Falls.

Best Time To Visit Burden Falls

While not Niagara Falls-level grand, Burden Falls shows off a decent 20-foot drop over a sandstone ledge, pursued by another 80-foot tumble through waterfalls and cataracts. Its grandness, nonetheless, relies on the season.

Rainwater energizes it, so expect the most noteworthy display after an adequate rainfall. During drier times, it can decrease to a trickle or even vanish entirely. As said before, the fall’s flow relies on rainfall. Check the forecast beforehand to ensure you observe its full glory.

8. Lake Falls

Nestled within Starved Rock State Park, this waterfall delivers a tranquil gush of water amidst a friendly lake setting. It’s an uncovered treasure that lies closely within the magnificent Matthiessen State Park, merely a short drive from the more prominent Starved Rock State Park.

While not the tallest or most extensively influential falls in the park, Lake Falls has its outstanding allure and magnificence. Lake Falls comes down 20-30 feet over moss-covered rocks, initiating a sequence of cascading pools that glow and trickle in the sunlight. The surrounding sandstone ridges and lush herbage tally to the fairytale-like aura.

There is an ample parking space found close to the trailhead. Washrooms are public at the parking lot and close to the waterfall. There are many assigned picnic locations near the falls where you can relish a refreshing break.

Swimming is not allowed at Lake Falls because of the powerful currents and uneven landscape. Lake Falls might not be the greatest waterfall in Illinois, but it’s charisma and easy accessibility make it a flawless destination place for a break and nature getaway.

Best Time To Visit Lake Falls

Spring and early summer are promising times to visit Lake Falls when the water outpour is at its pinnacle. In autumn, the surrounding greenery explodes in multicolor, developing a mesmerizing setting for the flowing water. During winter, the frozen waterfall proposes a striking and captivating landscape.

9. Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall

Found in Apple Canyon Lake State Park, this cascade is noteworthy for its picturesque waterfall over rugged ridges. Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall, located in the heart of Apple Canyon State Park in Savanna, Illinois, is a real hidden jewel holding off to be found.

While not as largely understood as its peers in the state, this waterfall proposes an extraordinary mixture of peacefulness and adventure, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor fanatics.

The waterfall itself falls a scenic 40 feet down a sequel of rock shelves, producing a mesmerizing exhibition of power and elegance. Enclosed by lush herbage and towering trees, the scene evokes a feeling of wild, unaffected magnificence.

Lace-up your boots and get ready to dig into the scenic tracks that meander through the park, directing to stunning lookouts and hidden perspectives of the waterfall. The 1.5-mile Waterfall Trail is a famous selection, offering a reasonable challenge and rewarding scenery.

Best Time To Visit Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall

Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall keeps changing throughout the year, delivering something extraordinary for every coming season. Spring brings along cascading meltwater, while summer unveils lush greenery and vibrant wildflowers. Autumn dyes the surrounding terrain in fiery shades, and winter builds a wonderland of ice and snow.

10. Bulge Holes Waterfalls

Hidden within the Shawnee National Forest, these waterfalls bid a sense of adventure as travelers explore rocky escarpments and cascading streams.

The Bulge Hole Waterfalls is an uncovered glory situated within the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. It’s not only one waterfall, but a sequence of cascading beauties hidden amongst the cliffs and forests.

Over 15 waterfalls of different heights and profiles, with some reaching up to 50 feet, green surroundings with sandstone ridges and rock constructions. Hikers can scour the region via unmarked paths but be ready for some bushwalking and steep climbing.

The namesake “Bulge Hole” is an enormous rock refuge built by a cascading waterfall. Swimming is permitted in some assigned sites, but be careful of slippery rocks, currents and sudden drop-offs, particularly near the waterfalls

Conclusion: Waterfalls in Illinois

Illinois, often overcast by its metropolitan stature, stretches out a description of natural beauty through its finest waterfalls. These enchanting splendors beckon adventurers to swap cityscapes for serene landscapes, granting a retreat into the embrace of nature.

From the majestic canyons of Starved Rock State Park to the tranquil charm of Matthiessen State Park, each waterfall conveys a remarkable tale, asking all to take part in the symphony of Illinois’ hidden glories.

So, are you prepared to encounter the hidden mysticism of Illinois? Lace up your hiking shoes, grab your sense of fable, and get ready to be astonished by the cascading magnificence of these natural surprises.

Conclusion: Waterfalls in Illinois

Q. What are some of the best waterfalls in Illinois for swimming?

A. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: Opportunities for swimming are unrestricted near the base of the waterfall. Shawnee National Forest: Double Branch Hole and additional hidden falls bid secluded swimming holes. Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest: The lower pools of this cascading waterfall are ideal for a refreshing drop.

Q. What is the fairest time of year to look in on waterfalls in Illinois?

A. Spring: The water level gets high and creates amazing arrays, but tracks can be muddy.

Summer: Enjoy warmer temperatures and swimming chances, but mobs can be huge in number.

Fall: Foliage adds a vibrant setting to the waterfalls, and the masses are less in number.

Winter: Frozen waterfalls propose a distinctive and mesmerizing scenery, but tracks can be icy.

Q. What are the safety precautions I should take when visiting waterfalls in Illinois?

A. Stay on assigned tracks and evade going up on the rocks near the falls. Be conscious of slippery surfaces and powerful currents near the water. Swimming in regions with posted alerts or vigorous currents can be dangerous. Consider the environment and leave no trace.

Leave a Comment