Macon County Conservation District Explore the Outdoors
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What Can You Do at Rock Springs Conservation Area & Nature Center?

Rock Springs Center is the largest park in the Macon County Conservation District properties with a total of 1,343 acres in the southwest area of Decatur, IL. The Sangamon River runs through Rock Springs and several small ponds dot the landscape. A wide range of terrain including forest, wetland, grassland, and restored Illinois prairie make Rock Springs a destination for nature lovers. Rock Springs is also home to a large nature center, a museum, a restored farmhouse, nearly nine miles of hiking trails, and a paved bike trail. Rock Springs is a favorite for families all year round. Rooms and pavilions are available for rent for meetings and events.

Rock Springs Nature Center is located on the southwestern edge of Decatur. To get to Rock Springs Center from Decatur go south on Route 48 and turn right onto Rock Springs Road. Watch for signs. Plenty of parking is available.

Rock Springs Conservation Area and Nature Center are located at 3939 Nearing Lane in Decatur, IL [get directions].

Rock Springs GPS Coordinates are 39.817713 N, 89.00932 W

Visit Rock Springs Nature Center

The Ecocenter

The ecocenter is a fascinating and fun museum located in the Rock Springs Nature Center. The museum exhibits are designed to teach young and old about the natural history of Macon County. You'll hear the sounds of native wildlife and learn how animals cope with surviving in an ever-changing environment. Read more about the Ecocenter.

See Live Animals

Check out our aquariums filled with native fish and amphibians from Illinois' streams, lakes and rivers. See snapping turtles, eels, yellow-bellied catfish, large mouth bass, snakes, tree frogs, salamanders and more! Read more about the live animals in the Rock Springs Nature Center and how you can support them.

Window on Wildlife

The "Window on Wildlife" at Rock Springs Nature Center offers a view of the woods and overlooks the bird feeding area. From this vantage point, you can observe the birds that live at Rock Springs Nature Center year-round as well as those that stop in during the spring and fall migration. Read more about the "Window on Wildlife" nature observation window.

The Bluestem Theater

See nature and history movies all day long at the touch of a button. Movies are 3 to 20 minutes long. We are currently featuring films on "Exploring the Outdoors", "Abraham Lincoln in Macon County", and "Biodiversity of Illinois". Read more about the current shows at the Blue Stem Theater.

North Wing Art Gallery

This art gallery showcases works of local artists in various media. Special events are featured year-round. Read more about current exhibits and upcoming special events at the North Wing Art Gallery.

Charles Franklin Shilling Reference Library

The nature reference library, located in Rock Springs Nature Center, is open to the public. It offers a wide variety of books and videos for loan on such topics as natural resources, nature study including plants, animals, birds, geology, astronomy, and many other topics. The library features an excellent collection of books on prairie flora and fauna plus prairie habitat restoration and various resources on local history. Read more about the Reference Library, its hours, and how to check out books from it.

Prairie, Forest, River: The Natural Treasures of Macon County

Children and adults alike will enjoy learning about native plants and animals of Macon County through seeing, feeling, crayon-rubbing, and button pressing in the hands-on exhibits of this fun, interactive museum. Read more about the Natural Treasures of Macon County Museum.

Borrow or Rent Equipment for Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, or a Nature Adventure!

Make your trip to Rock Springs Nature Center even more special by using our equipment for fishing or cross-country skiing. Borrow a themed Family Exploration Pack for free - just ask! Read more about the equipment for rent or borrow from the Nature Center.

Special Events All Year Long

The Rock Springs Nature Center hosts a wide variety of events all year. Events include everything from live animal shows to nature and history talks. Check our events calendar on our website for dates and times of events.

Have Your Next Event at the Rock Springs Nature Center

The Rock Springs Nature Center has rooms of all sizes available for rent. Perfect for birthday parties, receptions, reunions, meetings, and more! Read more about our room rentals and start planning your event!

Birthday Parties

Let us help you provide a "naturally" fun adventure for your child's next birthday. Included with each party; Naturalist led activity with many themes from which to choose, cupcakes, drinks and gift bag for each child, reserved room for refreshments and gift time, and time to explore the ecocenter exhibits. Call 217-423-7708 for more information or to schedule your child's party. Learn more about Rock Springs Nature Center Birthday Parties.


Visit Rock Springs Conservation Area

The History of Rock Springs: Rock Spring Water Company

In 1907, Charles M. Parker bought the 80-acre "Rock Spring Farm", which contained the spring. Parker began to make plans to start a business called the Rock Spring Water Company at the site of the spring to bottle and sell the water. He had a concrete bottling plant built next to the springhouse. The plant contained a power-driven pump, compression tank, soaker tank, and a steam boiler connected to sterilizing and rinsing equipment. Read more about the Rock Spring Water Company.

Homestead Prairie Farm

Experience life before the civil war at the Homestead Prairie Farm - restored home of the Jospeh Trobaugh family. See interpretive programs with guides in period clothing, visit the heirloom garder, woodworking shop and restored prairie. Available for group programs. Read more about the Homestead Prairie Farm.

Hiking Trails

Rock Springs Conservation Area boasts nine different trails of varying lengths and difficulty through prairie, woodlands, and wetlands. Most of these trails are suitable for cross-country skiing. Read about each trail, its location and level of difficulty here.

Fairview-Kiwanis-Rock Springs Bikeway

This bikeway connects Rock Springs Conservation Area, Fairview Park and Kiwanis Park with a paved, 3.2 mile, 10-foot wide, handicapped accessible trail for hiking, bicycling, dog walking, roller blading, running, walking and more. The trail offers opportunities to observe a reconstructed prairie, a pine forest, wildlife, nature and forests of Macon County. Read more about the paved Bike Trail.

Nature Camps for Kids

Through hands-on, outdoor experiences, including hikes, arts and crafts, games, activities and play, children will have fun and exciting adventures while they gain awareness and knowledge of the natural world and an appreciation of local history throught the seasons. See current nature camps and registration information on our Camps page.

The Restored Prairie

In 1979, Rock Springs started creating a prairie restoration on the abandoned farmland of the Joseph Trobaugh house. Read more about Macon County's restored prairie.

The Pine Forest

The pine forest, although beautiful, is not an area of natural habitat. This forest was planted me 1959 as a Christmas tree farm. This five acre pine plantation contains red and white pines - not to mention the many other birds, insects and mammals that now call this forest home. Read more about the Pine Forest and it's inhabitants.

Rock Springs Ground Squirrels Vintage Base Ball Club

The Rock Springs Ground Squirrels are Macon County's Vintage Base Ball team. They play all summer long at home on BeautifulTrobaghField as visitors against other teams in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio. Read more about the Rock Springs Ground Squirrels Vintage Base Ball Club.

Pavilion Rentals for Picnics, Reunions, Birthdays and more!

Reserve a picnic pavilion at four of Macon County Conservation District's areas: Rock Springs, Friends Creek, Fort Daniel and Griswold. Pavilions include a grill and more. Read more about the pavilions for rent from the Macon County Conservation District.

Trust Course

The Team Trust Course offers organized groups a unique environment in which to enhance their skills at tackling problems in school, the work place and life in general. Great for youth groups, summer camps, vacation bible school, retreats and more! Call (217) 423-7708 to reserve the trust course. Learn more about the Trust Course at Rock Springs.

Sangamon River Mill

Miller's Mill is the site of an 1800s gristmill that ground local maize into cornmeal. There is an informational kiosk on the trail overlooking the mill site which tells the history of the mill. Read more about Sangamon River Mill.


Enjoy fishing in the many ponds through the Macon County Conservation District conservation areas. Ponds are stocked by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with catfish, bass, rainbow trout and blue gill. Read more about fishing at Rock Springs.



Canoe the Sangamon River which runs through Rock Springs Conservation Area. Bring your own canoe and personal flotation devices. There are two access points with parking available. Learn more about where to canoe in Decatur, IL.

Cross-Country Skiing

Rock Springs Center offers cross-country skiing for people ages 3 to 93. There are trails for both novice and experienced cross-country skiers. There is no need to go out and buy equipment; we provide rentals. You can rent skis, boots, and poles, which can be used both on and off our sites. Learn more about renting cross-country skiing equipment.


Today's Sunrise Sunset in Decatur, IL:
    Sunrise is at: 5:35 AM
    Sunset is at: 8:10 PM

What can you do at the Nature Center?

Visit Our Conservation Areas

Rock Springs Conservation Area
Friends Creek Conservation Area
Sand Creek Conservation Area
Griswold Conservation Area
Fort Daniel Conservation Area



The Macon County Conservation District invites you to visit the many natural areas in Macon County, Illinois, including Rock Springs Nature Center, which offers nature programs, special activities, nature hikes, summer camps, music programs, conference rooms for all ages throughout the year in Decatur, Illinois.
Macon County Conservation District
3939 Nearing Lane
Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 423-7708

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