Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve: Ravines, Rolling Hills, and a Historic 1862 Church/Nature Center

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND If Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve was a baseball hit, it would be a majestic home run walloped by Babe Ruth or “Hammerin' Hank" Aaron at the height of their powers. If it was a streaming success, it would be The Wire, one of my favorite shows … Continue reading Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve: Ravines, Rolling Hills, and a Historic 1862 Church/Nature Center

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

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER & AUTHOR OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND I lived for 15 years on the “mean streets” of…well…well…Jefferson Park—a “nice-streets” neighborhood on Chicago’s far Northwest Side. Not a concrete jungle, but certainly a city neighborhood, with pretty houses packed closely together; mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, and bars hanging on for dear life during the … Continue reading Discovering Nature and Finding Peace During the Pandemic: A Story of Three Seasons in Chicago’s Southland

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

“Big Marsh Has Big Plans.” That’s the newspaper headline I’d write if I were covering the ongoing environmental restoration and nature and recreational development efforts at Big Marsh Park, 11555 S. Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, IL 60617) on Chicago’s far Southeast Side. This natural area is located on 297 acres of reclaimed industrial land on … Continue reading Big Marsh Park: Spectacular Bike Tracks, Bountiful Birding, and Much More

More Than 20 Museums, Nature Centers, and Other Destinations to Visit In Chicagoland on a Winter Day

BY ANDREW MORKES, FOUNDER OF NATURE IN CHICAGOLAND It's a snowy weekend in Chicago, but that's no reason to stay at home. A 10-mile winter hike = NO! Camping = NO! But you can still get out and take a short walk or, more realistically, enjoy one of our area's many natured-oriented places, museums, and … Continue reading More Than 20 Museums, Nature Centers, and Other Destinations to Visit In Chicagoland on a Winter Day

15+ Museums, Nature Centers, and Other Destinations to Visit in Chicagoland on a Teeth-Chattering Winter Day

Chicagoland is currently playing the lead actor in a bomb of a play called "Polar Vortex." While you may not be able to take a long hike or go camping (unless you like risking frostbite after spending 30 minutes outdoors), there are many natured-oriented places, museums, and even an auto museum you can visit to … Continue reading 15+ Museums, Nature Centers, and Other Destinations to Visit in Chicagoland on a Teeth-Chattering Winter Day

14 Things to Do Outdoors in Chicagoland Before Summer Ends

August is here, and summer is in its third and final act. The “actors” are still on stage: the leaves are green, the flowers are in bloom, the beaches are packed, the kids are still out of school, the sidewalk cafes are jammed with summer revelers, and the sun doesn’t set till around 8 p.m. … Continue reading 14 Things to Do Outdoors in Chicagoland Before Summer Ends

Volo Bog: An Ice Age Remnant and the Only Quaking Bog in Illinois

About 12,000 years ago, the last of the towering glaciers that covered parts of what is now Chicagoland began melting. As one of the massive glaciers melted, a water-filled depression was left in its wake. The depression eventually developed into a deep 50-acre lake that had steep banks and poor drainage. About 6,000 years ago, … Continue reading Volo Bog: An Ice Age Remnant and the Only Quaking Bog in Illinois

First-Time Snowshoer Tells All: 10 Tips for Success and My Son’s Thank You

My snow mantra worked—maybe too well! Within the last week or so, snow-starved Chicagoland became a winter wonderland. Shouts of joy and a blizzard of curse words came from those who either embraced or were enraged by the nearly 12 inches of snow that’s fallen in the last week. Last week, my wife, 7-year-old son, … Continue reading First-Time Snowshoer Tells All: 10 Tips for Success and My Son’s Thank You

Orland Grassland: A Respite From Malls, Motorways, and Modernity

Where: 167th Street & South LaGrange Road--About 35 miles southwest of Chicago city-center Quick Summary: A large restored grassland complex with prairie, oak savannas, shrublands, ponds, wetlands, and woodlands. Perfect for hiking and birdwatching. THIS DOESN'T LOOK PROMISING, I thought to myself, as I drove south on LaGrange Road toward Orland Grassland. LaGrange Road would be better … Continue reading Orland Grassland: A Respite From Malls, Motorways, and Modernity

4 National Park Service Destinations Within 0 to 220 Miles of Chicago

Have you ever visited a national park, monument, or other National Park Service property? If not, the Labor Day weekend is a great time to start. According to the NPS, “the National Park System covers more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 417 sites with at least 19 different designations. These include 129 … Continue reading 4 National Park Service Destinations Within 0 to 220 Miles of Chicago