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U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Monarch butterflies feasting on Swamp Milkweed. Monarch butterflies feasting on Swamp Milkweed. Photo by Bill Glass, U.S. Forest Service.

Obedient Plant, Black eyed Susan and Rattlesnake Master. Obedient Plant, Black eyed Susan and Rattlesnake Master in mid-summer. Photo by Bill Glass, U.S. Forest Service.

Purple Prairie Clover, Little Bluestem and Black-eyed Susans. Purple Prairie Clover, Little Bluestem and Black-eyed Susans are among the diverse mix. Photo by Bill Glass, U.S. Forest Service.

South Patrol Road Restoration Area

Forest: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Description: The South Patrol Road Restoration area encompasses the Midewin's oldest restoration project in its relatively short history. The site is a 460 acre glacial outwash plain restoration on mostly level topography with several slight ridges and depressions. The area is being restored to a mixture of wetland, sedge meadow and mesic prairie habitats. Wetland hydrology has been restored where appropriate and is continuing as the habitats are enhanced from year to year. A hiking trail has been established through parts of the project area.

Wildflower Viewing: Diverse wildflowers can be viewed during different periods of the year at this restoration. In the spring, flowers such as Tall White Indigo (Baptisia leucantha), Prairie Clovers (Dalea purpurea and Dalea candida) and Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) can be seen. In mid-summer, the area becomes a sea of yellow with Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum), Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) and various sunflowers waving in the breeze. In later summer, you can see different Goldenrods (Solidago rigida, Solidago riddellii), Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) and Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata). The adventurous might find such rewards as Turk's Cap Lily (Lilium michiganense), Royal Catchfly (Silene regia) and Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Over 200 different prairie and wetland plants are known from the site.

Safety First: This is an area open for deer hunting from October through mid January; this time period includes several weekends for shotgun and muzzleloader hunting. Turkey hunting is also allowed from mid-April to mid-May each year. It's best to contact the Midewin Welcome Center at (815) 423-6370 before visiting for specific hunting dates, as they change slightly from year to year. Restoration in this area is ongoing, so be alert for vehicles and equipment. Watch footing if walking off trail; be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen in warm weather. Spring and summer rains and thunderstorms can develop quickly, so be prepared for weather changes.

Directions: From interstate I-55 at exit 241, proceed east to Boathouse Road, about 2 miles and take Boathouse Road north to the visitor parking area located about ¼ mile near the entrance to the seed production beds. To reach the restoration, walk north after passing through the walk-through gate at the north end of the parking lot. Proceed to the trail entrance located less than ¼ mile north on the east side of the road. You can walk the trail or wander out into the restoration area, enjoying various birds, wildlife and diverse wildflowers and grasses.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Closest Town: Wilmington, Illinois.