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Chain O'Lakes

The Fox River Chain O’Lakes is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States.


The 15 interconnected lakes, 30 miles of the Fox River from the Wisconsin State line to the Algonquin Dam, as well as their tributaries and 40 miles of navigable channels provide outstanding opportunities for boaters, anglers and skiers.

Learn more and visit the vibrant businesses and communities surrounding this amazing piece of nature.

The Chain O'Lakes Experience

The Chain O'Lakes allows for a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including boating, fishing, hunting, kayaking, canoeing, birdwatching, swimming, water skiing, and tubing.


To complement these activities are many local businesses, including numerous marinas, restaurants and bars, that serve the weekend and summer vacationers.


Many of these businesses sponsor special events throughout the summer, including boat races, fishing tournaments and live musical performances.

Click the respective business category and resources below to view helpful listings and information covering your every need for a great Chain O'Lakes experience.

The Fox Waterway & Chain O'Lakes In Depth

The Chain O'Lakes were formed when the Wisconsin glacier melted, leaving behind many of the lakes now present in the Fox River Valley, including those in the Chain.


The park borders three natural lakes - Grass, Marie and Nippersink - and the Fox River that connects the other seven lakes (Bluff, Fox, Pistakee, Channel, Petite, Catherine and Redhead) that make up the Chain. In addition, the park contains a 44-acre lake within its boundaries. With nearly 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline, Chain O'Lakes State Park is the heart of a water wonderland.

Quick Facts

  • 15 Lakes

  • Over 7100 Acres of Water

  • 488 miles of shoreline

  • 45 miles of river

  • Busiest inland recreational waterway per boat per acre in the United States

  • Weekend crowds up to 30,000

  • Holiday crowds in excess of 100,000


The chain is a hidden gem in northern Illinois with plenty to do and many restaurants to enjoy a day on the water

Richard, 54


Reel Time Information

Keep up to date with Fox Waterway current open /closed status, real time water levels and national weather service information for this area.

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water temps
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