Galena, Illinois

Julie Bruser & Tom Saccomanno

Julie Bruser & Tom Saccomanno

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Galena, Illinois

206 South Main St.
Galena, IL 61036

Phone: (815) 777-2883
Fax: (815) 777-2833
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Map This Location

Explore the Natural Wonders of Galena and the Surrounding Area

The picturesque town of Galena lies in the northwest corner of Illinois where you can find dramatic views of the Mississippi Casper BluffRiver, lofty geologic precipes, scenic farms as well as historic buildings.  It is one of the most unique areas in the state, harboring rare plant species found nowhere else in Illinois.  The highest geographical point in the state is in Scales Mound, the next town northeast of Galena, and the darkest area in the state occurs at Apple River Canyon State Park, located in the eastern part of Jo Daviess County.  Because northwest Illinois -- and also portions of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa -- escaped the continential glaciers of the Pleistocene Epoch, it is known as the "Driftless Area." 

A few interesting facts about the natural wonders here: 

  • Approximately 271 bird species regularly occur in the Driftless Area of Illinois. This represents almost 90% of the 300 species of birds that regularly occur in the state.  Of these 271 species, 138 breed or formerly bred in this area.
  • The species diversity of the area is due to its geographical location and its topographic complexity.  Here several species of birds reach or are near their geographical limits.
  • Dry cliff communities are found on the bluffs facing the Mississippi River, with the most spectacular examples in Mississippi Palisades State Park where the cliffs rise 280 feet above the floodplain.
  • There are approximately 1,632 miles of rivers, streams, and shorelines in the Driftless Area of Illinois.  The three largest streams are the Plum River, Apple  River, and the Galena River.
  • 42% (915 species) of Illinois native flora occurs in the driftless area, an area that comprises only 1.7% of the state's total land area.
  • The Driftless Area is one of the most rural areas of the state, so its public land holdings are relatively large and contiguous, helping to reduce the negative effects of fragmentation.
  • 45 species of mammals occur here, representing 78% of the state's mammal species.  The state-threatened river otter and bobcat can be found here. The main breeding population of the river otter in Illinois occupies the backwaters and tributaries of the Mississippi River in Jo Daviess, Carroll, and Whiteside Counties.
  • The Driftless Area of Illinois supports 89 species of fish, 39 species of mussels, and 9 species of large crustaceans.  Eleven amphibian and 25 reptile species occur here, including the state-threatened western hognose snake and the timber rattlesnake.

There are many places to enjoy the natural beauty of Galena and the surrounding area.  There are two state parks nearby--  Apple River Canyon State Park and Mississippi Palisades State Park.  The Upper Mississippi River National Fish & Wildlife Refuge runs along the Mississippi River, with the Lost Mound Unit recently opening to the public at the old Savanna Army Depot, which is located between the towns of Hanover and Savanna. 

The non-profit Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation (JDCF) owns several properties that are open to the public, including Schurmeier Teaching Forest in Elizabeth, and the Buehler Preserve and Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve (pictured above -- a great place to go birding) in Galena.  There are many birding enthusiast members of the JDCF, and so during spring and fall migration time, there are weekly birding outings as well as other special events.  For more information, see the Web site www.jdcf.org.  Birding trips are also offered by Gregg Painter, an expert birder (and Wild Birds Unlimited customer).  See his Web site at www.galenabirdingtours.com.

The Galena River Trail is a scenic place to hike and bike in the town of Galena, and it features views of the Galena River and towering bluffs.  See www.cityofgalena.org/recreation.cfm .  Fever River Outfitters rents canoes, kayaks, bicycles, scooters, snowshoes, and ice skates, and also hosts birding and nature tours in Galena.  See www.feverriveroutfitters.com.  Adventure Creek Alpaca Farm is located near Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, and is a great place to see these wonderful animals.  See www.adventurecreek.com

For a complete listing of other ways to enjoy the natural wonders of the Galena area, visit www.galena.org and www.visitgalena.org.  Across the Mississippi River is the city of Dubuque, which also has a lot to offer.  Visitor information may be found at www.dubuquechamber.com.  The Dubuque chapter of the Audubon Society hosts many events at Dubuque nature preserves.  See their Web site at www.audubondubuque.org