Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois

Those looking for a scenic day trip from Chicago or Northern Illinois should check out Apple River Canyon State Park.

The park is located in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. In the winter, eagles frequent the area.

Five trails – Pine Ridge, Tower Rock, River Route, Sunset and Primrose Trail (accessible) – wind through the woods for several miles within the park.

You can easily explore the park in a single day.

All of these images are from late-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

Feature Image Details

For the feature image, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 58mm, for 1/30 of a second at ISO 500.


  • The key to reflection images such as these is for the water to be in the shade.
  • Play around with various exposures and time durations.
  • Get low to the water! Sometimes you cannot see any reflections unless you get low. Find a composition you like, then set up the tripod in that position.

Here are some more images all taken within a couple hundred yards of the feature image in late afternoon.

When possible, shoot both vertical and horizontal images. Here is a vertical image from the same location.

The previous two images were taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens: If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list. I see things from a wide angle perspective.


Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall

Note the Great Blue Heron fishing at the top of the waterfall.

The above image is not in the main park area. Rather, a dam on the river forms Apple Canyon Lake. For directions, do a search for Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall as opposed to Apple River Canyon State Park.

There are no trails in the area. The surrounding land is private and posted. Other than to stop and take an image, there is little to do at this spot. It’s worth a side trip from the state park, but it’s not an activity destination.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Coming up next: Another new destination.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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