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The Rock River Valley is a region in Northern Illinois comprised largely of the communities along and in close proximity to the Rock River, a major tributary of the Mississippi River.


Map of Rock River Valley
  • 1 Rockford - third-largest city in Illinois.
  • 2 Belvidere Belvidere, Illinois on Wikipedia - the county seat of Boone County.
  • 3 Dixon - childhood home of US President Ronald Reagan, known as the "Petunia City".
  • 4 Freeport
  • 5 Rochelle
  • 6 Sterling-Rock Falls - neighboring cities split by the Rock River.

Other destinations

  • 1 Castle Rock State Park Castle Rock State Park (Illinois) on Wikipedia - near Oregon: along the bank of the Rock River - boating, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting.
  • 2 Lowden State Park - near Oregon: a site along the Rock River with a statue of Black Hawk as the Eternal Indian - boating, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting.
  • 3 Rock Cut State Park Rock Cut State Park on Wikipedia - near Rockford: biking, camping, boating, fishing, hiking, hunting.
  • 4 White Pines Forest State Park White Pines Forest State Park on Wikipedia - near Polo, Mount Morris and Oregon: camping, fishing, hiking, hunting in the Rock River valley.



In the early days of the area, the Rock River was an important navigable river connecting the Mississippi to portions of northern Illinois and south central Wisconsin. The area was renowned for manufacturing and industry. It has since fallen on hard times, and many parts of the area are now known for unemployment and economic depression. However, there are many beautiful natural sites and unique attractions in the area worth visiting.

Get in


By road


Several major routes cross the Rock River Valley:


  • Interstate 90 (tolled) connects Rockford and its suburbs with Chicago to the east, and with Madison and Rock County, Wisconsin, to the north. It enters the area near Belvidere and heads northwest before entering Rockford. Once in Rockford, it joins I-39 and turns north exiting at the Wisconsin border.
  • Interstate 39 (portions tolled) runs north-south through the area, connecting Rockford and Rochelle to LaSalle-Peru and Bloomington-Normal to the south. In Rockford, it joins I-90 and continues north to the Wisconsin border.

US Routes:

  • US Route 20 is a cross-country east-west route running through the region. Entering just west of Belvidere from Chicagoland, it runs due west and joins I-39 just south of Rockford. From there, it bypasses the city and resumes a western course into the Illinois Driftless Area with Galena, utimately crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa at Dubuque.
  • US Route 30 is a cross-country east-west route running through the extreme southern portions of the region. Entering the area just east of Kendall County, it runs straight west and connects Dixon and Sterling-Rock Falls before entering Eastern Iowa at Clinton.

Illinois Routes:

  • Illinois Route 2, a trans region north-south route, IL 2 connects Rockford and its suburbs with Dixon and Sterling.
  • Illinois Route 72 runs east-west and connects the middle part of the region, principally Byron.
  • Illinois Route 251, a north-south route, IL 251 connect Rockford and its suburbs with Rochelle.

Get around


Rockford has a mass transit system, but the majority of the region is only accessible via car.


  • Byron Dragway: The Byron Dragway is a local car racing track located immediately outside of Byron. The track typically has races each weekend during the spring and summer.


  • Rock River Activities: The Rock River Valley is dotted with numerous parks, picnic areas and boat launches for those who would like to enjoy the scenery and canoe or kayak on the river. Many of these areas are on Illinois Route 2.





The Rock River Valley is close to Chicagoland and many of the regional beers, wines and liquors are available in this area (often at a lower price than what can be found closer to the city). In addition to those, the region has some distinctive local breweries including the following:

  • Prairie Street Brewing (based in Rockford).
  • Carlyle Brewing (based in Rockford).
  • Pecatonica Brewing (based in Pecatonica).

Stay safe


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This region travel guide to Rock River Valley is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!