Offering nearly seven miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, Illinois Beach State Park provides a setting as diverse as it is beautiful. It is known as the only remaining beach ridge shoreline in Illinois and the landscape ranges from sandy dunes to marshes, dense forests to swales. The biodiverse park includes more than 650 plant species, including wildflowers, cacti, cattail, and more. The park boasts an interesting history, with part of the park serving as a Union prisoner of war camp during the Civil War and the same area acting as a national guard training facility at a later date.
The park is 4,160 acres in total and is separated into northern and southern regions. The northern part of the park and beach is most crowded, particularly in the summer. The southern portion of the park is less so and the shoreline eventually turns into wetlands.
Activities include swimming, boating, hiking, fishing, geocaching, scuba diving, skiing, biking, and camping. A conference center is also available. The southern part of the park has five miles of trails, including an easy-going two-mile loop with gravel paving. The northern part of the park offers a cross-country skiing trail.
Pets are welcome at Illinois Beach State Park, but dogs must be kept on leashes at all times and you must bring your own means of picking up after them. Other regulations include required registration for groups of 25 or more and groups of minors of 15 or more must be accompanied by an adult. All alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
As always, when taking your dog to a beach or park, bring all items your pet may need during your visit, including a portable water bowl, extra water, a pet first aid kit and plenty of disposable waste bags. Ensure your dog is up to date on all shots and medications, including those that protect them from pests that can be easily contracted during hikes.