The Illinois Driftless Area is a region in Northern Illinois containing the sole portions of the Driftless Zone in Illinois. Like other portions of the Driftless Zone, the Illinois Driftless Area is noted for its high hills, deep river valleys and general scenic beauty. Like many other regions in the area, its borders are somewhat fluid but generally contain all of Jo Daviees and Stephenson Counties as well as the western portions of Carroll County near the Mississippi River.
- 1 Elizabeth
- 2 Freeport : The county seat of Stephenson County, Freeport is the largest city in the region and major industrial hub.
- 3 Galena : The county seat of Jo Daviees County, Galena is a major tourist area known for its historic downtown and nearby golf courses and skiing areas. It is also the hometown of former President Ulysses S. Grant.
- 4 Mount Carroll : The county seat of Carroll County, Mount Carroll is notable for its historic homes and charming downtown, the entirety of which is designated as a district on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 5 Orangeville
- 6 Scales Mound
- 7 Stockton
- 1 Apple River Canyon State Park
- 2 Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
- 3 Charles Mound, the highest point in Illinois
The Illinois Driftless area is locally renowned for its scenic beauty (especially in Chicagoland), and this helped boost its tourist industry. As more and more people visited and vacationed there, the area grew to meet the demand. Galena is particularly tourist-driven, but even Mount Carroll has some tourist elements.
It is called the Illinois Driftless Area because it is part of the driftless zone. "Driftless" refers to the geological history of the area; its ground hasn't been eroded by glaciers during Ice Ages, nor does it have rocks or other sediments transported there by moving glaciers.
The region is most accessible from the following route:
- US 20: US 20 connects the region to Dubuque and Chicagoland and is the only route to run through both of the largest cities in the region - Freeport and Galena.
- IL 78: This major north-south route runs along the Mississippi and connects the region to I-88 and I-80 to the south.
- The Chicago-Galena Stagecoach Trail: A rural route running between Lena and Galena, this old stretch of road closely follows the original stagecoach trail that ran through the area and has some of the basic scenic views in the region.