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  Prophetstown - State Recreation Area   

Northwest Region

Riverside Drive
P.O. Box 181
Prophetstown, IL 61277


Winding River Scene

Camping History Picnicking
Directions Horseshoe Court Swimming
Fishing Hunting Trails
Hiking Natural Features  


Prophetstown State Park, on the northeast edge of Prophetstown along the south bank of the Rock River in Whiteside County, is a scenic and historic area offering a variety of recreational facilities. Once the site of an American Indian village, the 53-acre park derives its name from the Native American prophet Wa-bo-kie-shiek.

Prophetstown became a state park in 1947 in legislation sponsored by State Rep. George S. Brydia, who had served 10 terms as mayor of Prophetstown. Gov. William G. Stratton dedicated the park in formal ceremonies there on Sept. 18, 1953.


Wa-bo-kie-shiek (White Cloud), who was of mixed Winnebago and Sauk descent, served as an advisor to the great Sauk war chief Black Hawk. In 1831, the advancement of white settlement forced Black Hawk and his followers from the Rock Island area into Iowa, with the promise that they would not return.

Under treaty, the land at Rock Island still belonged to the Native Americans until sold by the United States. The frontiersmen, however, were impatient and began to occupy the site of Black Hawk’s village. In 1832, Black Hawk denounced the encroachment of the frontiersmen upon the lands of his people and set out from Iowa to retake the ceded land.

For a time in 1832, northwestern Illinois was the scene of many skirmishes between the Native Americans, the Illinois militia and the regular army. Prophetstown, the site of Wa-bo-kie-shiek’s village, was destroyed on May 10, 1832 by troops of the state militia commanded by Gen. Samuel Whiteside.

Black Hawk was finally chased into southern Wisconsin, with his retreat culminating in a decisive defeat of the Native Americans a few miles south of Bad Axe on Aug. 2, 1832. A few days later Black Hawk was captured, and after several months captivity during which time he was taken to Washington, D.C., he was permitted to return to his people in Iowa, where he died in 1838.

Natural Features

Prophetstown State Park is a predominantly wooded area located along the south bank of the Rock River. Its terrain is relatively flat and lies within the floodplain of the river. Predominant trees are maple, cottonwood, oak, walnut and locust. Animal species often seen are squirrels, rabbits, ducks, muskrats, raccoons and deer. Coon Creek flows through the park and feeds into the Rock River, creating a natural area for fish.


Picnic tables and stoves are provided. No cooking may be done except on camp or park stoves. The area offers a picnic shelter and playground equipment. Drinking water and privy toilets are also located on the area.


Anglers will find largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel and flathead catfish, bullhead, carp, sauger and walleye in the Rock River. You also can throw a line in Coon Creek. A concrete boat ramp is available for easy boat launching. There is no horsepower limit on boat motors.


An open, well-shaded area is available for both tent and trailer camping. There are electrical outlets and a dump station available for trailers, 43 of which are availale for reservation through ReserveAmerica. Water hydrants and privy toilets are located throughout the area.  There also is a shower building with flush toilets.

Horseshoe Court

Visitors who enjoy competition in horseshoe pitching will enjoy the six courts available in the picnic area.

Hiking Trail

Wa-bo-kie-shiek nature trail follows the edge of Coon Creek for approximately 1/3 of a mile. It offers access for anglers while also providing a scenic walk for hikers.


While swimming is not allowed in the park, many park visitors enjoy swimming in the Prophetstown Park District indoor pool, located about four blocks away.


Hunting is available at the Big Bend State Fish & Wildlife Area, located just 4 miles from Prophetstown. For more information, contact Big Bend at (815) 537-2270. Hunter Fact Sheet


Prophetstown State Park can be reached by I-80 or I-88 and exiting onto IL Rt. 78 then heading south from I-88 or north from I-80. After reaching Prophetstown, watch for directional signs. The park is located on the south side of the Rock River within the city limits of Prophetstown.

  • While groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
  • At least one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
  • Pets must be kept on leashes at all times.
  • Actions by nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
  • We hope you enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
  • For more information on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
  • Telecommunication Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.

Parks & Recreation

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Office of Land Management
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702
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