Illinois is an excellent state of firsts, from abolishing slavery on February 1st, 1865, to be one of the first states to accept metal detecting as a legitimate hobby. It was also the first state to have a modern skyscraper. With these facts in mind, we struck out across the state to do some adventuring and our first time in many state parks. It was a time of firsts.

Where to Metal Detect in Illinois
Where to Metal Detect in Illinois

During our adventures traveling Illinois, I noted some of my favorite places we stayed at or visited. These are all places that I used my metal detector and had a great time of it. Let’s take a stroll along with my adventures without further to do as I tell you about the seven best state parks on our adventure.

1.     Mississippi Palisades State Park – Vertical Cliffs of Mystery

Palisades are defined as lofty cliffs, according to the Department of Natural Resources website describing the Mississippi Palisades State Park. It is pretty accurate at this park. We noticed when we were at the park is that the rock formations are pretty vertical. And the park also has sinkholes and caves that descend vertically, so watch where you’re walking, just in case. Some of the great things you can do at this park are:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Metal Detecting
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Picnicking
  • Rock Climbing

Here’s how to find the Mississippi Palisades State Park – https://goo.gl/maps/imAXKhrevVKZ5xqV8

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Activity/Pages/MississippiPalisades.aspx

2.     Kankakee River State Park – A River Runs Through It

Kankakee River State Park was one of the destinations that I remember well. Not because a friend had mentioned the great fishing in the clean Kankakee River at the park, but because it was one of those family excursions where the family just clicks. We had a camp set up and a campfire, and after a day of hiking and metal detecting, while the kids did a little exploring, we had a great time roasting treats around our campfire.

The only catch to going to Kankakee to do some metal detecting is that you will need to get a permit from the park office. It’s not a big deal; as long as you don’t show up with a backhoe, you’re likely not to run into any significant issues.

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Activity/Pages/KankakeeRiver.aspx

Here are some of the park’s highlights:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Hunting

You can find this incredible park here – https://goo.gl/maps/Yef84Zy5nKNK5ssq5


3.     Giant City State Park – Giant Fun!

Another great park, and another that you need a permit – but again, it’s not a big deal, and it’s worth the trouble to stay on the right side of the park staff. The areas for detection are only mildly restrictive. Aside from that, it’s an incredible destination teeming with wildlife and beauty. Several amenities make this park stand out. Here are a few of the park’s amenities and activities:

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/About/Pages/GiantCity.aspx

You can find the Giant City State Park here – https://goo.gl/maps/1ubygswNsRcN2ChZ7


4.     North Point Marina – Boating, Scuba, And Fun!

If you’ve never tried scuba diving, this is a great place to do it. However, there’s more to North Point Marina than just the water. They boast one of the largest freshwater marinas in the entire great lakes. You can take a boat out for the day and get away from it all. Or if fishing is more your game, you can do that too. With the Illinois Beach State Park next door, you can take the family over to the beach if the trails or water activities in North Point don’t quite suffice.

Metal Detecting in Illinois
Metal Detecting in Illinois

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/NorthPointMarina.aspx

Here are some of the park’s activities:

  • Bike Trails
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Swimming

If you’ve thought about metal detecting underwater. I’d recommend reading my article on HOW TO METAL DETCT UNDERWATER

You can find the North Point Marina State Recreation Area here – https://goo.gl/maps/7uEv8jjZ81rghPSGA


Are you looking for MORE Places to Metal Detect in the Mid-West U.S.A? READ BELOW


5.     Illini State Park

Illini State Park has some history with America’s Industrial Age. Not far away was a strip mine that used to deliver coal to industry. Of course, I wasn’t there to find coal, but sometimes there are other precious metals and things where coal resides.

If it’s coins and relics you’re after, the history of the area ought to indicate that you have a decent enough chance of finding something of value that dates back to those early Industrial Age days of old.

The park allows camping, boating, fishing, picnicking, metal detecting, and other activities. Just check in with the park office for current updates or guidelines.

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Activity/Pages/Illini.aspx

Metal Detecting Tip: Abandoned beaches are a great place to go metal detecting. You might think that an abandoned beach area doesn’t have traffic, so it doesn’t have treasure to be found. The area may have once been bustling with traffic, which means you’ve got a quiet and peaceful place to find great things potentially! For more great tips on detecting and more, read this article: https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/


6.     Chain O’ Lakes State Park – Beautiful Nature

The Chain o’ Lakes has a charming atmosphere. I recall taking the kids swimming at the beach and across the lake; all you could see was lush green, from left to right, all green. If you’re used to city life, you’ll understand what I mean when I say it almost takes your breath away how beautiful and pristine this park is. I highly recommend it.

The park has many amenities and allowed activities, from metal detecting, camping, an archery range, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and more.

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Camp/Pages/ChainOLakes.aspx


7.     Moraine Hills State Park

If you’re into history at all, then the Moraine Hills State Park will be of particular interest. The park, which includes a 48-acre lake at its center, has a history dating back to the ice age. A large chunk broke off the Wisconsin glacier and melted, forming the lake at Moraine Hills.

According to the DNR park site, shortly after the glaciers melted, humans were in the vicinity within about 1000 years of the lake formation. People have been in the region for a very long time. That means there is a decent chance you could find something old. Something ancient. Even though you wouldn’t be allowed to keep such a find in most cases, it would be quite the tale to tell!

Moraine Hills offers various activities for you and your family including boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, and more.

Source: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Activity/Pages/MoraineHills.aspx

Metal Detecting Laws for Illinois

Illinois is an excellent state because they recognize that metal detecting is a legitimate hobby and doesn’t hurt anyone or thing if done with respect for nature and property. That said, the state does have a few restrictions. No shovels are allowed; the state prefers the minimal approach using slim picks, screwdrivers, or similar ‘digging’ devices.

One of the benefits of the state recognizing the hobby of metal detecting is that the DNR who manages the state parks, has organized which parks they allow metal detecting in. It makes the process for any eager metal detectorist easy to determine where they can or cannot do metal detecting without a permit.

Quick Law Recap:

  • Illinois State Parks: Permitted in certain parks, some specific regions. Here’s a link the the Illinois State Parks – Here . You can also read over Illinois State Park Permit form HERE.
  • National Forests: Permit required from US Forest Service
  • BLM Lands: Permit required. Always remember to check the BLM Field Office. Read more about Metal Detecting on BLM land in this article: Can You Metal Detect on BLM Land
  • Illinois State Lands: If not managed by the DNR, land requires permits for prospecting privileges. Environmental areas that are protected are generally restricted.

Metal Detecting Clubs in Illinois

  • Sage City Relic Hunter’s Club – Central Illinois – This club states on their club website that they meet 9 out of twelve months of the year, excluding January, February, and July. – http://www.sagecityhunters.00server.com/
  • WCHRRA – Joliet, IL – Formed in 1983 in Northeastern Illinois, the WCHRRA boasts 100 members and has meetings monthly along with events scheduled annually. –  https://www.wchrra.org/index.php
  • IVHRRA (Illinois Valley Historical Research & Recovery Association) – La Salle, IL – Meeting on the second Monday of every month, the IVHRRA is an active community of metal detectorists. Founded in 2010, the club boasts over 150 members. –  https://ivhrra.com/
  • Midwest Historical Research Society – Villa Park, Chicago, IL – This club was founded back in 1968, holds responsible social distanced meetings and events. – http://www.mhrsusa.com/

Metal Detecting Tip: Watch the weather and take advantage of the rain. One of the great things about rain is how it cleans off things and helps the ground settle. While damp, the earth is often easier to dig up, albeit a bit heavier. For more great tips, take a look at this article: https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/

Metal Detecting Treasures Found In Illinois

Sometimes when hunting for the elusive treasure, we as metal detectorists push the boundaries a little. We’ve all done it at one time or another. What we need to remember as responsible metal detectorists is that just because many state parks allow the hobby doesn’t mean it’s allowed everywhere.

It is a forgotten lesson recently in an area in north Chicago called Glenview, Illinois. Two metal detectorists found themselves both slapped with trespassing fines. Read the full story here – https://patch.com/illinois/glenview/trespass-warnings-beach-metal-detector-enthusiasts-blotter

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David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.