Goodbye 2021…Hello 2022! 


I want to thank my Nature in Chicagoland readers for visiting my blog in 2021.  I visited 37 nature destinations in Illinois and Indiana last year, and 23 were new spots—including Rock Run Rookery Preserve, Buffalo Rock State Park, Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve, Casper Bluff Land & Water PreserveThorn Creek Nature Preserve, and Hegewisch Marsh Park. And I revisited spots that I love such as Cap Sauer’s Holding Nature PreserveSagawau Environmental Learning Center, Racoon Grove Forest Preserve, and Indian Ridge Marsh Park. I also published a book, Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit, that covers amazing destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Writing and publishing my book has been a lot of fun, and a great way to spend more time outdoors with my son and wife–and get out of the house during the pandemic.

I look forward to telling you more about great places to visit in Chicagoland. But before I move on to 2022, here were the most-popular nature stories in 2021 as selected by my readers (you can click on the links to read the articles). I’ll cover the most-popular non-nature stories in a different blog article.

And let’s continue do what we can to Save Bell Bowl Prairie (see #1). There is something extremely wrong with the Greater Rockford Airport Authority if it can not find some way to save 2-5 acres of original prairie in response to strong demand from the public and local lawmakers. I urge the authority to place profit second in order to find a way to save this priceless prairie remnant.

I wish you a happy and healthy year outdoors!

1. Bell Bowl Prairie Will be Destroyed on November 1, 2021—Unless You Act Now

2. Seven Things to Do at Rock Run Rookery Preserve

3. Five Things to Do at Lake Renwick Preserve/Heron Rookery Nature Preserve

4. Moraine Hills State Park: Rolling Hills, Top-Notch Hiking Trails, Winter Sports, and Much More

5. Matthiessen State Park: Awe-Inspiring Canyons, Colorful Cliffs, and a Biodiversity Hotspot

6. On the Joys of Hiking for a Hike’s Sake and Saying Goodbye to My Favorite Chicagoland Nature Spot for the Year

7. Discovering Nature and Finding Peace During the Pandemic: A Story of Three Seasons in Chicago’s Southland

8. Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve: “Forests” of Wildflowers, a Rare Prairie Ecosystem, and Great Birdwatching

9. Big Marsh Park: Spectacular Bike Tracks, Bountiful Birding, and Much More

10. Santa Fe Prairie Nature Preserve: A Red Caboose, Pleasant Trails, A Rare Prairie, and More Than 225 Native Plants

Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes

Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes (except those credited to other people in the original articles)


Looking for some great nature destinations in Chicagoland? If so, I just published Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit. It features amazing destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Click on the title to learn more. The book has 306 pages and 210+ photos and is only $18.99.



I have been a writer and editor for more than 25 years. I’m the founder of College & Career Press (2002); the editorial director of the CAM Report career newsletter and College Spotlight newsletter; the author and publisher of “The Morkes Report: College and Career Planning Trends” blog; and the author and publisher of Hot Health Care Careers: 30 Occupations With Fast Growth and Many New Job OpeningsNontraditional Careers for Women and Men: More Than 30 Great Jobs for Women and Men With Apprenticeships Through PhDsThey Teach That in College!?: A Resource Guide to More Than 100 Interesting College Majors, which was selected as one of the best books of the year by the library journal Voice of Youth Advocates; and other titlesThey Teach That in College!? provides more information on environmental- and sustainability-related majors such as Ecotourism, Range Management, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Sustainability Studies, and Sustainable Agriculture/Organic Farming. I’m also a member of the parent advisory board at my son’s school. Stories about my work have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Southtown, Beverly Review, and Practical Homeschooling.

In addition to these publications, I’ve written more than 40 books about careers for other publishing and media companies including Infobase (such as the venerable Encyclopedia of Careers & Vocational Guidance, the Vault Career Guide to Accounting, and many volumes in the Careers in Focus, Discovering CareersWhat Can I Do Now?!, and Career Skills Library series) and Mason Crest (including those in the Careers in the Building Trades and Cool Careers in Science series).

My poetry has appeared in Cadence, Wisconsin Review, Poetry Motel, Strong Coffee, and Mid-America Review.

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