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 Galena: The county seat of Jo Daviess 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.
- 3 Hanover
- 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 Savanna
- 6 Scales Mound
- 7 Stockton: Gateway to Jo Daviess County and home to J.L. Kraft's first cheese plant.
- 1 Apple River Canyon State Park - near Stockton: camping, hiking, fishing and hunting amid the limestone bluffs, ravines, springs and streams that characterize northwest Illinois.
- 2 Apple River Fort State Historic Site - in Elizabeth: a fort hastily constructed by settlers at the onset of the 1832 Black Hawk War.
- 3 Apple Canyon Lake - near Stockton: boating, fishing, golfing; a planned vacation community with 400 acres (160 ha) lake.
- 4 Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Recreation Area - near Lena.
- 5 Charles Mound - near Scales Mound: the highest point in Illinois at 1,235 ft (376 m), located on private property with limited accessibility.
- 6 Mississippi Palisades State Park - near Savanna: - many caves and large cliffs along the Mississippi River along the mouth of the Apple River.
- 7 Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge - locally, north of Savanna - entire region spans along the Upper Mississippi River from Wabasha, Minnesota, in the north to Rock Island, Illinois, in the south: a 240,000-acre (970 km2), 261-mile long (420 km) wildlife refuge.
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 Stockton and Mount Carroll have 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 Route 20 connects the region to Dubuque (west) and Rockford and Chicagoland (east), and is the only route to run through both of the largest cities in the region - Freeport and Galena.
- Illinois Route 78 runs through Mount Carroll and Stockton and is a major north-south route in western Illinois, running from Jacksonville to the Wisconsin state line.
- Illinois Route 78 runs through Galena and Hanover. It runs along the Mississippi River and connects the region to I-88 and I-80 to the south.
In Illinois, US 20 is designated the General Ulysses S. Grant Highway (often abbreviated the U.S. Grant Memorial Highway) and is the longest route in the United States. In eastern Jo Daviess County, US 20 is one of the few areas that remain two-lane across the entire stretch of US 20. The road between Dubuque and Stockton was once known as the most dangerous stretch of all of Highway 20 because of the hills and curves flanked by cliffs and valleys. Travelers were greeted with signs reminding them to drive carefully as they entered this stretch of road.
- 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.
US 20: In eastern Jo Daviess County, US 20 is one of the few areas that remain two-lane across the entire stretch of US 20. The road between Dubuque and Stockton was once known as the most dangerous stretch of all of Highway 20 because of the hills and curves flanked by cliffs and valleys. Travelers were greeted with signs reminding them to drive carefully as they entered this stretch of road. Passing lanes have made the route safer, but still has the many curves and valleys.
- Within Illinois:
- North into Southwest Wisconsin, for Baraboo and the Wisconsin Dells.
- West across the Upper Mississippi River and into Eastern Iowa, for Clinton and Dubuque.
- Ask the Rambler: What Is The Longest Road in the United States? Source published: 27-Jun-2017; accessed: 20-Jul-2022.