Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*
A trip to picturesque Morrison-Rockwood State Park offers many memorable experiences. A large sign in the shape of Illinois, fashioned from angle iron by a blacksmith, greets visitors at the entrance. Once inside, choose from a variety of recreational opportunities. Beautiful Lake Carlton, a stream-fed reservoir, features an abundance of ducks and geese, and is considered a prime location for fishing. Or, plan a family outing at the Lakeview picnic area, or just do some bird watching among the hickory, ash, oak and walnut trees.
The Morrison-Rockwood State Park is comprised of 1,164 acres, located north of Morrison in Whiteside County. It was established in 1971 and officially opened for "day use only" that same year. The park is named for the city of Morrison and a combination of nearby Rock Creek and the heavily wooded park area -- Rockwood. Lake Carlton, a focal point of the park, is a watershed impoundment which was constructed in 1969 by building a 38-foot high, 1,800-foot long earthen dam across a stream. The lake was named in memory of L. Carlton Anderson, a local citizen who actively promoted the park and was an important civic and conservation leader. Improvements have continued to be made in the conservation area, making it one of the most popular recreation spots in northern Illinois.
Camping at Morrison-Rockwood State Park is sure to delight all who love the out-of-doors. Ninety-two camping sites are available in heavily wooded areas of the park. Each site has electricity, grill and a table. A shower building with flush toilets is available from May 1st through October 31. A trailer dump station is conveniently located near the campground.
A three and one-half mile nature trail is marked for hikers. It offers many scenic views of the lake as it winds through the park. This trail is particularly beautiful in the spring when wildflowers are in bloom.
Equestrians may use a 14-mile trail through the park. The trail has a watering well and an overnight camping site with shelter.
The park has an abundance of wildlife. Lucky visitors may see rabbits, squirrels, quail, pheasants, foxes, coyotes, muskrats, groundhog or deer. Ducks and geese are often swimming on the lake to the delight of visitors. Bird watchers will not be disappointed at Morrison-Rockwood State Park. There are over 150 species of birds among the plentiful stands of hardwoods. Winter sports are also popular at the park. Ice fishing and ice skating are permitted on Lake Carlton. Fourteen miles of cross country ski trails will thrill skiing enthusiasts. The rolling hills of the park make great sledding paths if snow cooperates.
Recreation - Boating-
A two-lane concrete boat ramp allows easy access to Lake Carlton. Outboard motors are restricted to 10 HP and under and all boats with motors are to be operated under "no wake" speeds to protect the shoreline from wave erosion. An area is provided for private boat dockage for a small fee through concessionaire.
The hunting area is comprised of timber woodlots, brushy draws, and fence line interspersed with open grasslands with corn, milo, and sunflower food patches. Topography consists of gently rolling hills and several gullies of which some contain permanent water.
Lake Carlton provides one of the best fishing spots in Illinois. Its average depth is 12 foot, with a maximum depth of 27 foot. It has a shoreline of 2.9 miles with plenty of room for shore fishermen. Initial stocking of the lake was completed in 1970 and the lake has been managed since then to maintain a plentiful fishing variety. Anglers may catch largemouth bass, black crappie, Rock bass, channel catfish, redear sunfish, bluegill, muskie and walleye. In addition to shoreline fishing, there are nine piers which are designated for fishermen.
While at the park, be sure to visit one of the picnic areas -- all equipped with tables and outdoor stoves. Lakeview picnic area offers a beautiful view overlooking Lake Carlton. A pavilion with a fireplace adds to the rustic atmosphere here. Electricity is available for those wanting a more modern facility. This shelter, along with the shelter at Cedar Ridge can be reserved for large groups or family reunions.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
Morrison Rockwood State Park can be reached from Chicago by taking the East-West Tollway (I-88) west to IL Rte 78. Go north on Rte 78 thru Morrison and follow the signs. On IL Rte 78 follow the signs to Damen Road. Take it to Crosby Road about 2 miles. Turn left on Crosby Road, again following the signs, to our entrance in about 1.5 miles.