Named for environmental activist Marian R. Byrnes, this 135-acre park is one of Chicago’s largest natural areas. Located in the Southeast Side’s Jeffery Manor neighborhood (where it’s known as “the prairie”), the site encompasses a variety of ecosystems, making it a great place to observe species like frogs, snakes, birds, and deer. After undergoing immense ecological restoration, the park now provides community members with a safe space to relax and connect with nature. Its new asphalt multipurpose trail runs the length of the park, giving visitors access to multiple habitats and unique views.
Benefit: Wildlife Viewing
Steelworkers Park -Chicago Park District
Located in the South Chicago neighborhood, Steelworkers Park weaves its rich industrial history into present day recreation. Once the site of a thriving steel mill along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, the park is now one of the city’s unique natural areas, perfect for birding, stargazing, and other outdoor fun.
Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at rock climbing up a portion of the repurposed historic ore wall left behind by the steel industry. Or keep your feet on the ground with a relaxing walk or bike ride along meandering nature paths lined with native grasses and plants.
Burnham Wildlife Corridor – Chicago Park District
The Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC) is a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness running through Burnham Park. The corridor is composed of 3 main natural areas including the Burnham Centennial Prairie, Burnham Nature Sanctuary, and McCormick Bird Sanctuary. The corridor spans both sides of Lake Shore Drive, and is the largest stretch of natural area along Chicago’s lakefront. Its native prairie, savanna, and woodland ecosystems provide healthy, diverse habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, and offer opportunities for visitors to meaningfully connect to this revitalized public green space in ways that inspire nature exploration, enjoyment, and stewardship.
The Burnham Wildlife Corridor is home to five unique “gathering spaces,” which have been designed and created — and will be activated — by teams of local artists and community-based organizations from the Chinatown, Bronzeville, and Pilsen neighborhoods. The BWC Gathering Spaces are artistic installations and seating areas, reflective of nature and culture, that serve as assembly grounds and resting points for people exploring this part of the lakefront. They are located on both the east and west sides of Lake Shore Drive.
Little Calumet River Praire and Wetlands Nature Preserve
Deep River County Park
Wolf Lake Memorial Park
Visitors can enjoy the Pavilion at Wolf Lake and the Wolf Lake Aquatic Play Center, which are linked to the Hammond Marina and area amenities by way of a pedestrian trail. Wolf Lake Memorial Park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Highland’s Heron Rookery
The Little Calumet River Levee Trail follows along the boundary of Highland’s Heron Rookery, a large wetland home to many marshbirds and waterbirds such as coots, egrets, and herons. While herons no longer nest at the site, a Great Horned Owl has begun nesting at the site.
Grant Street Wetlands, Little Calumet River Levee Trail
This stop along the Little Calumet River Levee Trail, a paved trail along much of the Little Calumet River in Indiana, is a must for birders and nature lovers. The trail itself stretches from Hammond to East Gary.
Seidner Dune and Swale Nature Preserve
This dedicated Indiana state nature preserve is located is located along the Grand Calumet River in Hammond.
Ivanhoe South Nature Preserve
A remnant of globally rare dune and swale landscape, Ivanhoe South is located on the west side of Gary, just off US 12/20.