Camping at Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park

About the Area:

This weekend we went to Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park to camp for the first time. This is a IDNR (Illinois Dept. Natural Resources) park, one of the most protected areas in Il. It’s located in Zion, kinda a rough neighborhood, but you don’t even realize where you are after entering the park. We also had a great view of the dormant Zion nuclear plant. Awesome…?

This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650+ different plant species. Long recognized for its unique geological features, native flora and unmatched beauty, the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the “Three Fires” of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa.

This area was slated to be a preserve as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman, and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect (If you live/visitΒ  Chicago, you’ve seen a lot of his work), worked together to make the area a regional park. With industry progressing from the south, sand mining ravaging the dunes and parts of the surrounding rural area succumbing to pasture and homesteads, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in the 1920s.

In 1948, the state obtained the first parcels of what is now known as Illinois Beach State Park. The Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established in 1950 to protect the area. Through its efforts and the determinations of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve.

This area is unique, as it is a sand dune area, and the rest of Illinois is nothing like it. I was on the hunt for Opuntia – Prickly pear &Β Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper, both of these are native to this area. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark noted that trailing juniper “would make a handsome edging to the borders of a garden”

Our Weekend:

The weather was bleak, raining Friday, blustery Saturday until noon when we took our walk, and 41F at 10 pm, when the roaring fire couldn’t keep us warm.

It was also our first trip ‘dry camping’ or there is no H2O hookup, so we had to fill our 40 gallon tank before we left. Turns out, they had good city water being piped in where we could have filled here, but when the water supply is questionable, byow.

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Site #248. Great large, well shaded site.

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Yup, our bad, forgot about the raccoons. Luckily they were able to open zippers instead of chew threw things. They did nibble a bit though. Breck in the back ground.

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No alcohol, pets, ass or fires… NO FUN!!! But wait! There’s asbestos?!? Now it’s a party!

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The old beach house.

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The old Zion nuclear power plant. It’s been closed 25 years & is supposed to be completely removed by 2014. No nuclear material is supposed to be there.

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A shot from the other side. They still do have a security checkpoint. We also found a geocache right here.

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Honestly, we were bored with this part of the walk.

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I’m guessing this is something cool, but not sure what it is… Thoughts anyone?

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I thought this was strawberry, but it didn’t look right. I’ve got strawberry all over my yard. I now think it’s Rubus Flagellaris – Common Dewberry

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Morel mushroom – Didn’t know it was edible until I googled. Noted for later!! This was in a R.O.W.

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Polygonatum – Solomon’s Seal

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Stumped? – Anyone have any thoughts?

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Equisetum – horsetail, snake grass or puzzlegrass

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Opuntia – Prickly pear – The fruit is edible. Pretty kewl eh, Cacti in Illinois!

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Looking north, up Lake Michigan.

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Juniperus horizontalis – Creeping Juniper
In 2006, creeping juniper was listed as endangered in Illinois.

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Geocache!
We’re sorta private people and don’t post photos on-line, but we use our wedding rings (dogs also) as talisman for logging photo geocaches.

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Rain-

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bow! It was parallel to the beach. Gorgeous!

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The deer eye-balled us, but didn’t really care that we were there.

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Oammmmm.

If you can get out here to camp or even a walk, I recommend it!!

Enjoy the day & keep on planting!
Ilex

28 thoughts on “Camping at Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park

  1. Nice photos, I love this kind of nature… But 40 gallon? How much is it in liter? because I know that an American gallon isn’t the same as an Brittish gallon… But I could walk a lot of kilometers in a nature like that.

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  2. That is an epic morel! Sad thing is, you probly won’t find another there unless you return at the same time of year after a rain. The tallish squiggly things look like Dead Man’s Fingers to me. They are parasitic to the roots of conifers. The trailing strawberry is indeed strawberry, but unfortunately the fruits are tasteless. I have the Midwest Peterson’s guide that you need but I’m not giving it up!

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  3. Great post! How could a Morel be growing this time of the year? They are spring mushrooms… I don’t recognize the yellow flower. I will have to check it out again later. Maybe I can send you the links to the websites I use to help me ID wildflowers.

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  6. That is an epic Morel!!!! There is nothing more delicious. They only fruit right after a rain in May/June in your zone, April/May in mine. I used to always carry a small folding frying pan, a tiny camp stove, and some bacon for occasions like that! They’re better sautΓ©ed with butter and white wine, but butter usually melts and makes a mess…I camped at the Illinois Dunes in 1979 with the infamous ecologist Monty Lloyd from U. of C. I found this cool gigantic white larva in a dune, and threw it in a bottle of tequila for later identification. Around the campfire with the rest of the class that night, I got out my tequila-cum-worm and asked Monty what it was. He says, “Let’s see, give it here,” so I handed it over. “Hmmm,” he says, inspecting it. Then he takes the cap off the flask and slams the contents, worm and all. Smiles. “No idea,” he says.

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