Memorial Day Weekend Camping Trip to Apple River Canyon

Gather ’round scouts, what better way to spend part of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend than a campout in beautiful Apple River Canyon State Park, which is only two and one half hours from Riverside.

Apple Canyon

Apple River Canyon State Park is 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. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River.

As the nearest large city is Rockford some 50 miles to the east, the park is seldom inundated with visitors.

Flowing for countless centuries, the Apple River has cut through limestone, dolomite and shale deposits carving the canyon and creating massive cliffs rising high above the water. Upon close examination, the colorful canyon reveals walls dotted with mosses, lichens and tenacious bushes rooted to the sheer walls by minute crevices.

The glaciers that leveled hills and filled valleys in other parts of the state left this area unscratched. Fossils found in the limestone bluffs attest to the fact that the park was once part of a giant inland sea that extended from the Rockies to the Allegheny Mountains some 400 million years ago.  Lack of glaciation also was responsible for making lead veins easily available, which contributed to early development of the area.

The park contains such wildlife as deer, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, eagles, hawks and 47 varieties of birds. At least 14 different ferns and over 500 different herbaceous plants and 165 varieties of flowers, can be seen throughout the park.  Hunting is not allowed in the park because of its small size, but the fishing in the pristine waters of the Apple River is superb. The Apple River has a variety of fish including smallmouth bass, sunfish, crappie, carp and suckers. The river is one of several in the state where the Illinois Department of Natural Resources releases keeper-size rainbow trout. Trout require clean, clear, cold water and in the spring, Apple River meets these requirements in the spring, however, the fish do not survive through the hot summer months so the stream is stocked on a put-and-take basis.

Five hiking trails – Pine Ridge, Tower Rock, River Route, Sunset and Primrose – wind through the woods, bluffs and along the scenic Apple River. Trails average 1.5 miles in length.

Apple Canyon 2

Here are the specifics:

Who:  All Pack 24 scouts, parents / akeylas, and siblings.  The cost is $15 per scout, $25 per sibling, and $25 per adult.  Total registration is limited to 60 participants.

What:  Some of our activities will include: hiking, rock hopping, campfire stories, and a wide range of other scout-related action.

Where:  Apple River Canyon is located 140 miles, or approximately 2.5 hours, away from Riverside. We are camping in youth group dedicated campsites that are located right along the banks of the scenic Apple River.

Why: The usual suspects: good clean outdoor fun, friendships, and quality time with your scout(s).

When:  Friday, May 27th through Sunday May 29th.  Friday night will primarily consist of set up and possibly a campfire – Saturday will be the action-packed day – so feel free to come for either one night or two. We will be wrapping things up on Sunday morning after breakfast so everyone can be back in Riverside by mid-day on Sunday, May 29th.

How: Registration will start in the first week of April.   If you have any questions, or are willing to volunteer to help organize any portion of this campout, please email Gian Ricco at


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