Dayton Bluffs

Dayton Bluffs Preserve

It’s a have-to-be-there-to-feel-it kind of place.

The thrill of true wilderness. The comfort of age, unhurried growth, deep roots. The mystery of what you will find at the leafy bottom of the next ravine.

A place where the voices of Native Americans who walked this land long before you blend with the voices of today and tomorrow in a chorus of awe and admiration.

Our Native American Land Acknowledgment Statement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

Plan Your Visit to the Dayton Bluffs Preserve

The Dayton Bluffs Preserve is located at 2997 Illinois Route 71 just north of Ottawa, south of the I-80 and Route 71 interchange on the West side of the road.

We currently have a gravel driveway and parking area and a porta potty on site. A master plan has been developed for future amenities (view future amenities), but the wildness of the Dayton Bluffs Preserve is what makes it special! You can experience 100 acres of open prairie in the midst of restoration, the majesty and cool shade of 150 woodland acres, rugged ravines, glistening water cascades, the beautiful Fox River, sacred Native American burial mounds, and the Daniels family pioneer cemetery.

All City of Ottawa Parks rules, regulations and ordinances are enforced. All plants, animals, natural, and historic objects are protected by law.

Dogs are welcome at Dayton Bluffs Preserve as long as they remain on a leash. We ask that you clean up all pet messes, and respect the natural and historic resources of the site.

Our volunteer Friends of the Dayton Bluffs are of invaluable help in the restoration and care of this special place. If you are interested in joining their efforts and volunteering at the Dayton Bluffs Preserve, learn more about our volunteer program here.

Volunteer work days are held at the Preserve on the second Saturday of every month from 8:00am to 12:00pm, year-round. You can also financially contribute to our ongoing restoration efforts at the button below.

The Creation and Restoration of the Dayton Bluffs Preserve

We owe the preservation of the Dayton Bluffs property to many synergistic forces and to the creative thinking, open minds, and generosity of many entities, organizations, and individuals. But none of that may ever have come to be without one phone call from one of our loyal members telling us that they had seen a For Sale sign on this property, which had been slated for development but was also identified as a natural gem on our Lower Fox River Land Conservation Plan. That phone call was the first step down the road to saving this precious place of nature for future generations.

At a July 31, 2013 closing, The Conservation Foundation became the owner of Dayton Bluffs, an ecological and archaeological wonderland. 

But preservation is not enough for lands as special as this.

Efforts to both raise funds for and actually begin long-term ecological restoration efforts at Dayton Bluffs began immediately. Through countless volunteer hours we have cleared much of the woodlands of invasive trees and shrubs, and planted what were previously agricultural fields into about 100 acres of native prairie. But there is much more to be done!

The Friends of the Dayton Bluffs hold volunteer restoration work days at the Dayton Bluffs Preserve from 8:00am to 12:00pm on the second Saturday of each month. If you are interested in joining their efforts and volunteering at the Dayton Bluffs Preserve, learn more about our volunteer program here.


View the Five Year Progress Report

View the Master Plan for the Dayton Bluffs Preserve


Dayton Bluffs Preserve
2997 IL-71
Ottawa, IL 61350

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