Boating Options Galore at Independence Grove

The temperatures are rising, the sun is out and the water is calling your name. Luckily, Lake County offers a body of water for all boaters, new and seasoned. If you’re new to boating or just have a desire to get out on the water without hauling a boat, Independence Grove is an excellent place to get your feet wet (pun intended).
If you’re unfamiliar with Independence Grove, its history is quite fascinating.

When it was purchased in 1978, the Independence Grove was just a gravel quarry, 3,500 feet across and 75 feet deep. In the early 1990s, community leaders created a master plan for the future of the land. It opened to the public in 2001 and has become one of Lake County's most popular recreation destinations.

The Independence Grove website details specifically how the giant lake was created:

To create the lake, the quarry was mined of any remaining resources. Large pieces of equipment crushed the gravel, rock and concrete. Miles of conveyor belts throughout the bottom of the pit moved materials from one area to another. Mining royalties were put in a special fund to help pay for reclaiming the site for public use. Later, millions of cubic yards of clean fill were brought in to create about 60 acres of land. Since the walls of the old quarry were straight and steep, shelves were made along the edge to create a safer shoreline for wildlife habitat, and deter erosion. Thousands of trees and shrubs were planted.

Today, Independence Grove’s 115-acre lake is a boater’s paradise. There’s bound to be a watercraft that satisfies your boating needs. Available to rent are canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, stand-up paddleboards and fishing boats. Don’t worry about bringing safety gear – flotation gear and bike helmets are provided with each rental.

Boat renters must be 16 years of age or older; however, participants 12–15 years of age may rent boats with a signature of a parent or guardian who is present. There are no age restrictions for passengers.

View rental fees here. The marina also offers bait, tackle, and fishing licenses.

Canoe Launch

Personal watercraft are not allowed on the lake at Independence Grove. However, you can bring your own canoe or kayak and launch it on the nearby Des Plaines River. Independence Grove’s canoe launch, located near the North Bay Pavilion, offers shoreline fishing, a trail connection to the Des Plaines River Trail and parking.


A once barren quarry is now a rich aquatic ecosystem with gently graded slopes and underwater islands. Fish found include musky, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye, bluegill and yellow perch. Note that the preserve has a mandatory catch-and-release fishing program.

State fishing licenses are required and are available at the marina a limited stock of tackle.


Parking at Independence Grove is free for Lake County residents and is $5 per car for nonresidents Monday through Thursday, and $10 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Getting There

Independence Grove is located in Libertyville. View on Google Maps here. The entrance is located on Buckley Road (Route 137) just east of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21) and west of River Road.

You’ll want to set aside as much time as possible out of your day for Independence Grove – your boating excursion will provide you with breathtaking views of the surrounding prairie and woodlands. And there are plenty of activities on land to partake in while you’re there.

Visit Independence Grove’s website and follow on Twitter for news and updates on marina closings and more.

Independence Grove

16400 W Buckley Rd
Libertyville, IL 60048



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