Special Events

Experience McHenry County Conservation District by attending one of our upcoming special events! Click the months below to reveal the events. This page is updated quarterly. 

Due to ongoing concerns with Covid-19-19 our larger special summer events are cancelled, but we still offer plenty of special things to do. Our scheduled fall events are below and will follow current social distancing guidelines.

In addition to these special events, we also offer other seasonal programs. 

Register for a Program



Special Events

Cache Your Way Across McHenry County
Geo-Series: ongoing 
This GeoSeries is specifically designed to turn your next staycation, day trip or geocaching expedition into an extraordinary adventure. Cache Your Way Across McHenry County GeoSeries highlights 15 of the best District spots where gamers will be led along unique trails, under bridges, to historic sites, or in the middle of a majestic oak woodland. At each stop, cachers will be introduced to a variety of interesting facts, fun tidbits, stories, quizzes and a question to answer in your GeoSeries Passport. Those who complete all 15 caches will earn the District’s newest geocoin. A couple of the caches have travel bugs. Please move these bugs along and do not keep them; you will get your own to keep when you successfully complete the tour! Once you complete all the caches, bring your passport to one of our visitor centers to claim a coin; or e-mail a copy to smichael@mccdistrict.org

Download passport and program information.

Challenge 2020: Aug. 2 through Nov. 30
Complete your sheet and claim your 2020 GeoCoin. This year’s theme is mammalsAll caches will be live on geocaching.com. Note: This is a separate program from the Geo-Series above. There are a limited number of coins—first-come, first-served; one coin per household.

Lost Valley Nature Detectives
Self-guided Explorations
It’s a beautiful day for hiking and learning about the plants and wildlife of McHenry County! Due to Covid-19 the Lost Valley Visitor Center will be closed until further notice, but each month we will post links to virtual Nature Detectives activities and videos filled with things you can do from home! 

Monthly Exploration Topics:

August—Insects
Check out some cool facts about what makes insects so incredible and see if you can pick out the true insects among the look-a-likes. Learn how to make your own beautiful butterfly with just a few supplies. Go explore what insects are around your home! Download the Activity Sheet.

September — Fun Flowers
The end of summer nears and the last wildflowers of the season are in bloom. Learn how different seeds spread and grow through various experiments. Take a hike at a Conservation Site and go on a wildflower scavenger hunt!

October —Fall Colors
As fall sets in, leaves are fading from green to bright beautiful colors! Do a “Tree Parts Dance” to learn the parts of a tree and make leaf paintings. Go on a fall scavenger hunt at a Conservation Site and see if you can find everything.

November — Winter is Coming!
As the fall season ends, we know that means winter is on its way! Learn what different animals do to prepare for colder months. Conduct experiments to see how some animals adapt to colder temperatures! Finally, bundle up and head outside to embark on a scavenger hunt in your own backyard!

Become an Outdoor Explorer
Exploring outdoors keeps kids active, happy, and healthy. Need a little extra help motivating your kids to step away from the computer screen and onto the trails? Purchase a full color Outdoor Explorer activity book. Challenge your kids physically, intellectually, and creatively by having them complete scavenger hunts, wildlife observations, tree measurements, hiking challenges and more.

Complete at least 10 pages of activities by September 30, 2020 and redeem a prize! Notify us at Education@MCCDistrict.org when you have completed the activities.
Outdoor Explorer books and earned prizes will be mailed to participants. Purchase online only; $3.00 per book for residents and non-residents.

Roving Naturalists (Adults and Families, Ages 5+)
Stop by and visit with one of our Naturalists at a new conservation area each week. Ask questions about what is blooming, animals that are out and about, and get recommendations for a great hike. No registration required. Addtional dates in June and July, view the full line up. 
Tuesdays, 3:00–5:00 p.m.: August 4, Fel-Pro RRR, West Entrance; August 11, Hickory Grove –Highlands
Thursdays, 9:30–11:30 a.m.: August  6, Glacial Park, Keystone Landing; August 13, North Branch
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–Noon:  August 1, Boger Bog; August 8, Winding Creek; August 15, Stickney Run

Summer Photo Conest
Enter our Photo Contest and show us how you are experiencing the District this summer! 
Click here for complete rules.
Contest Dates: June 15 - August 19

Living History Event: Archaeological Awareness
Sunday, September 20, Noon–4:00 p.m.
Powers-Walker House, Glacial Park
No registration required. Drop in any time during event hours.

See a stone grinder, flintknapper, and other demonstrations of prehistoric skills. Try your hand at throwing an atlatl while pretending you are on a prehistoric big game hunt. A mounted cavalryman will also be on hand to explain archaeology of the Little Big Horn site. Archaeologists will describe how prehistoric technologies are discovered and interpreted. Examples of artifacts will be on display, including those found at the Powers-Walker House. Bring your own arrowheads or prehistoric tools for identification by professional archaeologists.

Become an Outdoor Explorer
Exploring outdoors keeps kids active, happy, and healthy. Need a little extra help motivating your kids to step away from the computer screen and onto the trails? Purchase a full color Outdoor Explorer activity book. Challenge your kids physically, intellectually, and creatively by having them complete scavenger hunts, wildlife observations, tree measurements, hiking challenges and more.

Complete at least 10 pages of activities by September 30, 2020 and redeem a prize! Notify us at Education@MCCDistrict.org  when you have completed the activities.
Outdoor Explorer books and earned prizes will be mailed to participants. Purchase online only; $3.00 per book for residents and non-residents.

Roving Naturalists
Stop by and visit with one of our Naturalists at a new conservation area each week. Ask questions about what is blooming, animals that are out and about, and get recommendations for a great hike. No registration required. Additional dates in October and November, view the full line up. 
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–Noon: 
September 5, DuField Pond - South, Woodstock 
September 12, Coral Woods, Marengo 
September 19, Beck's Woods, Chemung 
September 26, North Branch, Richmond

The Big Sit Bird Watching Event

Sunday, October 11, 7:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Powers-Walker House—Glacial Park

Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week at The Big Sit, an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event. The concept is simple: find a good spot for bird watching, sit in one spot for a designated time period, and count all the bird species you see or hear. The Big Sit falls in October when fall migration is in full swing. Gather your closest bird-watching friends for a bird-a-thon, a perfect excuse to share good stories, meet new friends, enjoy the outdoors and appreciate our fine feathered friends. Stop by for a few minutes, stay a few hours or join the whole 10-hour sit. Bring a lawn chair and your binoculars and layered clothing. Hosted by Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge & McHenry County Audubon Society with support from Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
For more information visit Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge–hackmatacknwr.org.

Living History Event: Twilight at the Farmhouse 

Wednesday, October 14, 6–8:00 p.m.
Powers-Walker House, Glacial Park
No registration required. Drop in any time during event hours.

Enjoy the twilight ambiance of this 1850's house by candlelight and lamplight while enjoying a fall evening viewing the ever-changing colors in the Lost Valley Marsh. Smell the aromas and see what is being baked in the wood-burning stove. We think of candlelight at the end of the day as peaceful, but have you tried doing detail work in dim lighting? See how the early settlers tried to get the remains of their work done at the end of the day.

OAKtober Planting Party! in the Big Woods

Saturday, October 17, Drop-in 1:00–4:00 p.m. 
Marengo Ridge • 2411 N IL Route 23, Marengo

Help restore the Big Woods of McHenry County with a tree planting party in the heart of Marengo Ridge! Help plant 340 oak trees and learn about the District's restoration efforts to restore the oak savanna and woodland that once covered one third of our county. Bring the whole family! Note: It is roughly a one mile hike along a rugged trail out to the planting site.

Roving Naturalists

Stop by and visit with one of our Naturalists at a new conservation area each week. Ask questions about what is blooming, animals that are out and about, and get recommendations for a great hike. No registration required. Additional dates in October and November, view the full line up. 
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–Noon:
October 3, Boone Creek, Bull Valley
October 10, Hickory Grove Highlands, Shelter #2, Cary
October 24, Lake in the Hills Fen, LITH
October 31, Pleasant Valley, Woodstock

Living History Event: Harvest Time in 1858

Sunday, November 8, Noon–4:00 p.m.
Powers-Walker House, Glacial Park
No registration required. Drop in any time during event hours.

Step back in time to the 1850's at harvest time. Try your hand at corn shelling, grinding corn into flour, or making a corn husk or yarn doll. Witness harvest activities like the baking of bread in the wood-burning cookstove and grinding herbs for winter use. Tour the historic farmhouse to learn more about its restoration, or visit with a Cavalry sergeant and his horse as they demonstrate the weapons of the era used to protect these frontier lands.

Roving Naturalists
Stop by and visit with one of our Naturalists at a new conservation area each week. Ask questions about what is blooming, animals that are out and about, and get recommendations for a great hike. No registration required. Additional dates in October and November, view the full line up. 
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–Noon:

November 7, Marengo Ridge, Shelter #1, Marengo
November 14, Boger Bog, Bull Valley
November 21, Harrison Benwell, Wonder Lake
November 28, The Hollows, Lake Atwood Shelter, Cary