Escaping to parks, lakes, and rivers close to home for even a few hours can feel like a mini vacation. One such destination is the Fox River of Illinois.

The Fox River emerges from southern Wisconsin, and meanders south through Illinois to Yorkville, and then veers west into the Illinois River. It was once the home of Potawatomi, Sac and Fox Native Americans.

The graceful Fox offers a tranquil setting for fishing, boating, hiking, biking, and picnicking. Most areas are lush with wildlife.

Fishing is particularly popular near the 15 major dams for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and carp. The most popular fishing areas are in Dayton, Yorkville, Montgomery, North Aurora, St. Charles, and McHenry.

Boaters can go through the lock at McHenry and proceed upstream into the Fox Chain O’Lakes, a popular recreational area. Only kayaks and canoes are allowed in lower regions.  You also can find gambling casinos on the river in Elgin and Aurora.

All waterways demand a level of respect and the Fox is no different. The areas surrounding the dams, especially below, are very dangerous. Escaping the clutches of the churning water in what is referred to as boils is nearly impossible. These areas are best avoided.

The Fox River is one of the 10 most endangered rivers in America due to its many dams and sediment. There are two other Fox Rivers in Southern Illinois.

©Mary K. Doyle

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