Fall Foliage in Carroll County Illinois along the Mississippi River

Back September 21, 2023
Travel Blog, Trip Ideas

The Ultimate Fall Road Trip through Carroll County, Illinois

Hello, fall lovers! As the leaves start to change and the air gets crisp, it’s the perfect time to embark on a road trip to experience the beauty of autumn in Carroll County, Illinois, located in northwest Illinois. From scenic drives to outdoor adventures, we’ve got you covered. So grab your pumpkin spice latte, and let’s hit the road!


photo: friends_stock

Begin your journey by driving through the picturesque country hills and farmlands of Carroll County. The stunning sunsets will make you want to pull over and appreciate the views. Ensure your camera is ready because you will want to take advantage of these Instagram-worthy moments!

Cozy Stays

Are you looking for a cozy place to stay? Check into Hickory Hideaway Cabins, located just outside Shannon, Illinois, near Lake Carroll. These cabins offer a romantic and secluded getaway, perfect for couples or families looking to escape the hustle and bustle. In Savanna, Illinois, located high on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, Rustic River Cabins boast rustic, cozy log cabins that sleep up to six people and are very close to public boat ramps for the water lovers in your car! These two venues are just the tip of the iceberg regarding overnight accommodations in Carroll County.


Mississippi Palisades State Park

Mississippi Palisades Park

This park is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. “Palisades” is the word used to describe a line of tall, steep cliffs, usually seen along a river. Mississippi Palisades State Park, three miles north of Savanna, Illinois, lives up to its name. The park boasts 2,500 acres of recreation opportunities, including hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and birding. It has a robust trail system—approximately 15 miles. The five trails in the northern part of the park tend to be wider and less strenuous than the five in the south, which are narrow and extremely close to the bluff. The park is sure to please the most adventurous traveler!

Springlake Campground

Spring Lake Campground

At Spring Lake Campground in Savanna, the main goal is to give travelers of all ages an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. Spring Lake is the entrance to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Its goal is to be a safe place for animals and a peaceful oasis for tourists. Since the 1940s, this one-of-a-kind event has been a trademark. When camping here, it’s like returning to a simpler time. The campground is more than just a place to park your camper or tent; it’s an old-fashioned camping trip that will leave a lasting mark. The fall foliage in October is a definite highlight.

Ingersol Wetlands

Ingersol Wetlands Learning Center

Just a few miles north of Thomson, Illinois, you will find Ingersol Wetlands, an overlook of the Mississippi River, showing off Sloan Marsh’s beauty. This refuge and viewing area brings you back to a time before concrete and skyscrapers. The view from the overlook disappears into the horizon, with the Iowa bluffs more than five miles in the distance and the mighty Mississippi River in the forefront. This 36-acre site is situated in some of the Midwest’s finest untouched wetlands. It’s a sight you will remember!

Biking & WaterActivities

The Great River Trail

Over 60 miles of the Mississippi River in northern Illinois, The Great River Trail is a beautiful way to see the river. In some places, the paved trail follows an old Chicago, St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Pacific Railroad section. From Savanna, the quiet route rolls across the sand prairie, past nature areas and farmland, and into Thomson. Watch for signs that tell you how to get from the paved trail to quiet roads in the area. The trail is excellent for all types of bikers.

Canoe rental from cSavanna at the Savanna Marina

Paddling on the Mississippi

Experience the fall foliage differently by paddling along the Mississippi River. Whether you are a canoe, kayak, or tubing fan, cSavanna Adventures of Savanna has all types available as rentals. So, no worries if you don’t have your own gear!

Heads up. After Labor Day, any form of  paddling will need to be confirmed by reservation. As with all weather-important activities, it is always best to confirm with any venue before hitting the road.

Begin yourAdventure

So there you have it, folks! Carroll County is your ultimate destination for a fall road trip. This trip has something for everyone, from scenic drives and cozy stays to outdoor adventures and thrilling experiences. Pack your bags, and let’s make this fall unforgettable!

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