Geologically unique in Illinois is the gorgeous terrain of the Driftless Region – so called because the 10,000 square mile area was untouched by glacial drift which flattened much of the Midwest’s landscape during the last Ice Age. Instead of flat prairie, the Driftless region is marked by striking rock formations, rolling hills and lush natural beauty. If you’ve never explored Illinois’ northwest corner, you’ll be in for a treat. Driftless Illinois is a wonderful blend of scenic historic towns, quiet communities and wooded rolling hills, all a short trip from the Mississippi River.
The rich history of Illinois is preserved in the historic towns of the Driftless Region. Galena and Mount Carroll are two great places to start any tour of the region, featuring well-preserved main streets, historic houses and local shops.
Although we most often associate the West Coast with mining rushes, the race to capture mineral wealth happened in many regions of the growing United States. Galena was a boomtown in the early 1800s when lead and other minerals started being mined in the surrounding area. Downtown Galena features beautifully preserved historic buildings and mansions that offer a taste of a bygone era. The active Galena History Museum welcomes visitors to the area and offers tours, programming and information about Galena’s role in Illinois’ development as a state.
Just a little to the south, the town of Mount Carroll is certainly worth a stop. The Mount Carroll historic downtown boasts a lively shopping and restaurant scene, local farmers’ market and plenty of charm. For an off the beaten track experience, try a visit to Raven’s Grin – a unique hand built, year-round haunted house experience close to the center of town. Guided tours by the owner and creator of Raven’s Grin can be scheduled by appointment and sometimes on the spot.
The Stagecoach Trail
Travel along a piece of history in the Driftless by following the 40-mile Stagecoach Trail through historic towns, communities and natural attractions. The Stagecoach Trail was founded on the route originally connected Galena to Chicago. The road currently winds from Galena to Lena.
In addition to being a spectacular scenic drive, especially as autumn colors come in, the Stagecoach Trail runs through some notable Illinois landmarks. Mounds abound in Northern Illinois, and the Stagecoach Trail runs near three scenic and notable spots, including the highest point in the state. Horseshoe Mound, Charles Mound and Scales Mound are all points of interest with hiking and recreation opportunities. The nearby communities of Scales Mound and Apple River showcase historically preserved buildings and quiet, small town charm.
For an adventure off the Stagecoach Trail, try Apple River Canyon State Park. The State Park offers nearly 2,000 acres of wooded hills, canyons, rivers and ravines to explore. A notable site for Midwestern birding, Apple River Canyon State Park also features hiking and waterways to enjoy. Set in a gorgeous landscape with striking limestone cliffs, the park highlights the ecology and geology of the Driftless Region.
Mississippi Palisades State Park
Set against the mighty Mississippi River, Mississippi Palisades State Park features riverside bluffs and historic hiking trails. The site of the State Park is rich in Native American history and lifeways including hunting sites and pathfinding trails. The natural wonder of the region is on full display with a wide array of wildflowers, tree species and animal life living within the Park’s boundaries.
Mississippi Palisades State Park is a great spot for camping, picnicking and fishing. Hiking trails for various levels of ability are accessible and the Park and areas can also be accessed at certain time for hunting deer and wild turkeys.
Fawn Ridge Realty
Can’t get enough of the Illinois Driftless Region? Neither can we. That’s why Fawn Ridge Realty specializes in property around the gorgeous Lake Carroll area. Lake Carroll offers the best of what the Driftless has to offer, with plenty of year-round recreation, private lake access, and a tight knit community of friends and neighbors. Set in the beautiful landscape of Northwestern Illinois, Lake Carroll is a great way to escape the hectic bustle of a city and savor the good things in life. Want to find your home in the Driftless? Let’s get started – just contact us today!