Land and Water

The open spaces of the Midwestern landscape have always been crucial to the quality of life in our region. The Chicago Wilderness Region boasts many different and superb ways for people to be connected with nature. Openlands believes these spaces ought to be protected and enjoyed by all.

Photo: DJ Glisson

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

Visit the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve about 25 miles north of Chicago in Lake County, free to the public and open every day.

Healthy Lands

From establishing city parks to stewarding large-scale landscapes in McHenry, Will, and Grundy counties, Openlands values the land and we work with partners across northeastern Illinois to protect open space permanently.

Clean Water

Through innovative programs and partnerships, Openlands connects communities and government agencies to build and maintain innovative green infrastructure to manage stormwater in flood-prone metropolitan areas.

Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge

Located an hour’s drive from the 12 million residents of the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, and Rockford, the newly-designated Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge is the first such refuge within 100 miles of Chicago.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Since the early 1990s, Openlands has worked to establish, restore, and protect the Chicago region’s largest conserved open space, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Will County, Illinois.

Paddle Illinois Water Trails

An interactive guide to the Northeastern Illinois water trails system, which encompasses 10 waterways, ranging from creeks that flow through densely wooded forest preserves to the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago as seen from Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Regional Trails

Utilizing trails is the easiest way to enjoy our region’s natural landscape. Find peace and solitude or share an experience with family and friends while you run, bike, or hike in natural serenity!