Gate Hours are posted as you drive in. Don't get locked in!
Boardwalk Update: The Interpretive Boardwalk into Volo Bog has received temporary repairs allowing for completion of the loop to the eye of Volo Bog. A budget request to replace the aging boardwalk is in the works.
Fifty-six miles northwest of downtown Chicago lies Volo Bog State Natural Area, home to the only open-water quaking bog in Illinois. Formed in an ancient glacial kettle hole lake, Volo Bog features a floating mat of sphagnum moss, cattails and sedges surrounding the open pool of water in the center of the bog. Further from the open water, the mat thickens enough to even support floating trees! Volo Bog - THE BOG - was dedicated as the 25th Illinois Nature Preserve in June, 1970. As the southern-most open water quaking bog in North America to exhibit all stages of bog succession, Volo Bog was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1972. Today a floating boardwalk takes visitors through all the vegetational stages from a marsh moat on the outer periphery, to the open-water eye of Volo Bog.
Volo Bog was purchased in 1958 when local citizens partnered with the newly formed state chapter of The Nature Conservancy and mounted a fundraising campaign. The land was later deeded to the University of Illinois. In the late 1960s, local citizens again advocated for Volo Bog to protect the site from proposed development, and encouraged its eventual transfer to the Illinois Department of Conservation (now the Illinois Department of Natural Resources) for management.
Since its establishment in 1970, more than 1,100 additional acres of land have been purchased to protect and enlarge the State Natural Area, which now includes marshes, prairie restoration areas, woodlands, two other bogs, and scenic trails.
Originally opened in 1980, Volo Bog's Visitor Center is housed in a dairy barn built in the early 1900s. Renovations began in 1996 to bring the building up to code, make it fully accessible, and accommodate the needs of the fast-increasing population of northeastern Illinois. The center includes a program classroom, the Tamarack Shop, offices and restrooms on the first floor. An elevator, housed in the silo, takes visitors to the second floor exhibits, hands-on discovery area and library.
The Friends of Volo Bog, a 501(c)(3) membership organization, formed in 1983 and has fought to protect the site from additional threats including bisection of the site by a proposed highway. They continue to this day to advocate for the protection of Volo Bog and support programming and projects at the State Natural Area.
The Visitor Center is open Wednesday - Sunday from 9 am - 3 pm as staff and volunteers are available (and by luck and chance otherwise). Phone 815-344-1294 to check daily availability.
A picnic area with tables and an outdoor privy is conveniently located adjacent to the visitor center parking lot. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own grill for cooking or use one of two near the picnic shelter. Ground fires and alcohol are strictly prohibited at Volo Bog State Natural Area.
Gates open at 8:00 am 363 days a year - closed Christmas and New Year's Days
Closing time is posted as one enters the parking lot and as one walks out of the parking lot. Closing times vary with the season; plan to be back to the parking lot no later than 30 minutes before sunset. Closing time might be EARLIER than that so PLEASE make note of the time as you enter.