Boating Lake County Blog

Boat­ing Options Galore at Inde­pen­dence Grove

Frog 5K

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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