5 Unbelievable Illinois Waterfalls Hiding In Plain Sight… No Hiking Required
You might not know that Illinois has some pretty cool waterfalls — but the Land of Lincoln has some serious stunners! So before you search for “waterfalls near me in Illinois,” you’ll want to keep reading to discover some of the state’s most glorious, easy-to-access waterfalls. While many of the state’s falls require a hike over the river and through the woods to access, the following five waterfalls in Illinois are hiding right in plain sight — no hiking required! So close that browser, and read on, because adventure awaits at these winsome Illinois waterfalls!
1. Apple Canyon Falls (Jo Daviess County)
This park is not very big, which makes seeing everything super easy. You’ll be blown away by the lake and waterfall. Read more about Apple River Canyon and the hikes at this scenic park here.
2. Thunder Bay Waterfall (Galena)
This is a scenic lookout in Galena. You will see this Galena waterfall from the parking area, which is located off of a quiet residential road, so there’s no hiking required. In fact, you can practically drive right up to the base of the falls, and the scene will take your breath away! It’s no wonder Thunder Bay Waterfall is a popular photography spot for couples.
3. Waterfall Glen (Darien)
This Illinois waterfall is best after it rains. If you want to park closest to the waterfall, head to the parking lot on Bluff Road. The trail itself is right by the 6.5 mile marker. And while the waterfall is beautiful all year round, Waterfall Glen is absolutely at its peak beauty during the autumn, when the Illinois landscape comes alive in fall colors.
4. Kinkaid Lake Spillway (Murphysboro)
This place has waterfalls and is also a wonderful swimming hole when temps heat up in the Land of Lincoln. You can hear the falls as soon as you get to the parking area, and you’ll see them after just a few quick steps from your car!
5. Krape Park (Freeport)
Scenic views abound at this multi-purpose Illinois park, which has features such as a carousel, mini-golf, swan boat rentals, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, playgrounds, and more. The waterfall is easy to see — it’s a 44-foot high cascades that guests can drive right up to. Limestone rock bluffs and trees surround this jungle-like falls, setting the picture-perfect nature scene.
Have you been to any of these beautiful, easy-access waterfalls before? Are you still wondering “What are some waterfalls near me in Illinois?” We thought you might be. Check out this amazing waterfall day trip that loops past six of the state’s most beautiful cascades. Now go chase some waterfalls!
More to Explore
Waterfalls near me in Illinois
How can I learn about more waterfalls near me in Illinois?
Right here -- at Only in Illinois! We are a bunch of bona fide waterfall chasers around here, and are always happy to share our favorite falls or map out a new road trip to explore these winsome wonders. For example, we mapped out this road trip that visits seven of the state's tallest falls, including Wildcat Canyon Falls and St. Louis Canyon Falls (both located in Oglesby), Jackson Falls in Simpson, and Bork Falls in Goreville. If you're an equal-opportunity waterfall chaser, this six-stop road trip loops around the state, visiting falls both big and small.
Are there many waterfall hikes in Illinois?
Given the abundance of waterfalls all around the state, it should come as no surprise that there are numerous waterfall hikes in Illinois, too! And while the above list of waterfalls require no hiking, if you're up for a little outdoor adventure, these seven waterfall trails will be right up your alley. One of our favorite waterfall hikes in Illinois is at the The Nature Institute Olin Nature Preserve. Located near Godfrey, this 2.8-mile hike is also a loop, and it leads to a marvelous waterfall that is surrounded by the forest. The entire walk is filled with scenic beauty, culminating in this fairy-tale-esque falls at the end. Another waterfall hike we adore is the Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail. This short, two-mile loop trail is the most popular hike to take at Matthiessen State Park, and once you visit, you will undoubtedly see why. This amazing waterfall drops over a cliff and has an amazing bridge above it for even better views. In total, the state parks takes up 1,700 acres, but it is often overlooked for nearby Starved Rock. So do yourself a favor and check it out the next time you're there!
What are some hidden gems in Illinois?
Absolutely! The Land of Lincoln is chock-full of hidden gems and wonders. In the southern part of the state, Dixon Springs State Park is a 786-acre park that features a small stream and, when it's rainy, several small waterfalls. The park features lots of shaded trails and scenic beauty, and really is one of the most underrated state parks in Illinois. If you're into bargain hunting, the Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston is an under-the-radar gem; this antique mall occupies a former high school and has over 50 vendors selling some of the most unique items you'll ever come across! You can visit the Pink Elephant and other hidden gems in Illinois on this amazing road trip.