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About ChicagoNatureNOW!
Chicago Nature Information


Gensburg-Markham Prairie is famous for its late July fanfare, when the fields ignite with white sparks of flowering spurge and purple torches of marsh blazing star.

Gensburg-Markham Prairie is famous for its late July fanfare, when the fields ignite with white sparks of flowering spurge and purple torches of marsh blazing star.

Experience National-Park Quality Beauty in Chicago

There are more than 350 square miles of natural area within about a 65-mile drive of downtown Chicago. That’s more natural beauty than twenty-nine national parks, including Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Acadia. And, if you think that’s remarkable, here’s a fact that will blow your mind: Chicagoland is home to 1,867 native plant species. That’s far more plant biodiversity than any national park—the closest is Grand Canyon National Park at 1,544. This means that, every day from mid-April through mid-September, there’s a national-park quality blooming event happening somewhere in our area!

I created my book and, now, this website as my gifts to you and to the world. They are works of love, not just in their creation but in their goal: to connect people with nature and to spark countless love affairs. Yet, they are merely doorways into the natural world. I invite you to cross the threshold, go outside, and explore. Be awed by nature’s beauty. Ponder its mysteries and delight in its wonder. And, if you do, you will surely fall into everlasting love.

Even though I love Chicago nature, my love alone isn’t enough. Many more people need to love it so that it can be protected and restored to health. And because you can’t love and support something that you don’t know about, I created my coffee-table book and launched this website to introduce Chicagoans to the wonders of nature that exist right down the road.

To help you discover these wonders for yourself, I will post frequent ChicagoNatureNOW! Alerts about upcoming natural events from around the Chicago region that rival the beauty of our national parks! Visit these special places, cherish them, and care for them. Then spread this Chicago nature information and encourage others to experience the magic by taking a snapshot and posting it on social media using the hashtag #ChicagoNatureNOW followed by a hashtag #NameOfPreserve.


Why These Preserves?

The nature preserves presented here represent what I’ve determined from years of experience to be the finest examples of the natural history of the region known as Chicago Wilderness. It is an area formed by glaciers that receded about 13,000 years ago and is defined by its unique geology and habitats that extend around the lake from southeast Wisconsin into northwest Indiana.

There are hundreds of nature preserves within the Chicago region, and I encourage you to visit them. However, many are under attack by weedy invaders from other regions and continents, and only a few remaining native plants remain—species that represent Chicago’s natural history. Over my many years photographing for Chicago Wilderness magazine, I have fallen in love with a special handful of sites that are not only exceptional in terms native biological diversity, but they are especially beautiful and provide an escape from urban life. They’ve stolen my heart, and my hope is that they’ll steal yours, as well.

As the battle to remove the invaders continues, and ecological restoration breathes new life and beauty into an increasing number of degraded sites, I will continue to explore and to add more high-quality nature preserves to this website.