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100 miles due west of Chicago lie the rolling hills, old growth forests and the pristine rivers of the Blackhawk Waterways in Northwest Illinois. With its quaint cabins and darling bed & breakfasts, it's the perfect weekend getaway in Illinois. Every mile is steeped in history, surrounded by outdoor beauty and dotted with charming villages. The Blackhawk Waterways is what your vacation getaway looks like...
In Real Life.

John Deere

Historic Site

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photo: Jack Hughes

Mississippi Palisades

State Park

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photo: Jack Hughes

Nachusa Grasslands

Bison Herd

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De Immigrant Windmill

working windmill

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Autumn on the Prairie | Nachusa Grasslands

Saturday, Sep. 21, 2019 10:00 am until Saturday, Sep. 21, 2019 4:00 pm
Autumn on the Prairie |  Nachusa Grasslands

Autumn on the Prairie Festival 

Sept 21, 10 am - 4 pm, Nachusa is proud to celebrate the state’s prairie heritage during its annual fall Autumn on the Prairie Festival. The all-day event includes "Look for Bison" tours, guided hikes, food sales, live raptors, nature exhibits, children's activities, music, artists, local vendors, and more. 


Come join us--the festival is free and open to the public. There is a $5 parking fee.

Riding Prairie Tours

Look for Bison 10 am to 3 pm

Free tickets will be available only at the Autumn on the Prairie site. Each person takes a number at the Bison Tours Tent. The Bison Tours ticket supply may be limited, based on festival attendance and the location of the herd.

You can join a tour anytime your number is less than the one written on the whiteboard. When you are ready, walk to the path entrance, where your tickets will be collected. Then walk west to the tent by the fence gate and get in line.

First come, first served for all numbers less than the one posted. You will ride on a trailer through the preserve. Visitors with low mobility must be able to walk to the path entrance, ride a UTV to the fence gate, and then climb a ramp or stairs into a trailer.


Finding the bison is not guaranteed, as they cannot always be seen from the lanes. Usually, the herd is more visible earlier in the day. The last tour will leave at 3 pm, so please get in line before 2:45 pm.

Guided Hiking Tours

10 am to 3 pm

Meet at the Hiking Tours Tent. Experienced guides will lead walking tours of Nachusa's prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. Details on the times, destinations, length, and difficulty of the hikes are available before the event. This information will also be posted by the Hiking Tours Tent.

Several tour groups will walk a loop departing from and returning to the AOTP site. Shuttled tours will drop you off and pick you up at a place on the preserve and then return you to the AOTP site. Meet at the Hiking Tours Tent at least 5 minutes before the scheduled departure.

Limited availability

Tours inside the Bison Unit will be limited to 12-15 people and will be canceled or relocated if the herd is in the vicinity. The number of participants for other shuttled tours may be limited, based on available transportation. All tour length times are approximate.

Sensible shoes and attire

Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended for the hiking tours, as most are off-trail with hills.

OTHER activities at the AOTP site

Visitor Center Welcome Area and T-Shirt Sales (New Design and Prices!)

Catering by Oliver’s Market (11:30 am to 3 pm)

Northern Illinois Raptor Rehab & Education Displays and Live Birds of Prey Program at 12:30 pm

Self-Guided Plant ID Walking Path

Books on First Sales

Discovery Tent Activities

Interactive Experiences with Brian "Fox" Ellis at 11:15 and 1:45 pm

Live Music by Sláinte and Friends

Prairie Art and Photography

Native American Skills Demonstrations

Local Produce Sales

Franklin Creek Conservation Association Grist Mill Display

Shuttle Service by Gene and Diane Rod


All posted plans are subject to change.

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