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. 


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
Winter is here. But that's no excuse to stay inside! Each month we will post links to virtual Nature Detectives activities and videos filled with things you can do from home! 

Monthly Exploration Topics:

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 on the 

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!

December — Winter Trees
Even though in the colder months most trees lose their leaves, some trees keep their needle-like leaves all year long! Evergreens may not be native to McHenry County, but we still have them in our Conservation Sites. Check out some fun ways to identify them and make a fun craft to bring the Christmas tree spirit to your home!

January — Owls
Most species of owls don’t mind the cold weather and stick around McHenry County all year! Learn about some of the different species of owls that live here through fun activities and make an owl craft so you can have your very own owl friend at home!

February — Whose Scat is That?!
While it may seem that most animals are not around in the winter, we can still see several signs that they are in McHenry County. One main sign is their scat! Learn some fun facts about scat and how to make your own gross scat treat too!

Cross-Country Candlelight Ski/Hike
February 12 & 13
Both Friday and Saturday evenings from 5–9 p.m.
Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake

Don’t miss your chance to cross-country ski on trails lit only by candlelight! Skiers of every experience level and age are welcome, but you must bring your own equipment. Gather around the campfire after your time out on the trail. Trails will be groomed for skiing if there is 4” of snow or more.  No pets please.
Not enough snow? Leave the skis at home and enjoy a candlelight hike, a campfire and the allure of the winter woods. Note: Check Before You Go, cancellations may occur due to weather (if trails are icy/hazardous or the wind chill drops below -20°) or staff emergencies. Check for alerts before you head out.

Seize the Day!
The snow has fallen and it’s time to drop everything and enjoy it! Sign up to receive an e-mail to let you know when and where we will be in the next 24 hours to enjoy the SNOW!!
Will it be…
…a Cross-Country Ski Lesson at Prairieview?
…a Snowshoe Hike at Pleasant Valley?
…Night Sledding at Glacial Park?
Have you ever been frustrated by the fact that there’s no snow when snow programs are planned, but then plenty of snow when they aren’t? We have, too!
In December, January & February staff members will be on call to offer a program or activity when we get that perfect snow. We’ll send a message 24 hours in advance with an invitation to join us when conditions are right!
Sound good? Call (815) 479-5779; or e-mail education@mccdistrict.org.

Festival of the Sugar Maples
2022 Public Weekends
 March 5, 6, 7 and  March 12, 13, 14
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Coral Woods Conservation Area

Festival of the Sugar Maples is a great way to get outside in the crisp spring air! Learn how maple syrup was made hundreds of years ago, how the trees make sap, see several sap collecting methods, and how we make the syrup today. Face Coverings Required. No pets please. This year's event made possible in part by a generous donation from Amerigas sponsorship of the Evaporator House!

Earth Day Celebration
April 17
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Prairieview Education Center

Join us in celebrating Earth Day in McHenry County!
  • Exhibitors, guided hikes, activities, and take home crafts.
  • Georgia Rae Family Band at 12:30 p.m. & 2:30 p.m.
  • Bring a picnic lunch and eat outside while enjoying the view!
  • Household Recycling Drop Off - A variety of items accepted including electronics, CDs/DVDs/cassettes, fiber/textiles/shoes, batteries, fluorescent tubes and polystyrene foam. Details and fees for recycling items are as follows: 
    • Batteries are $1.00 per pound. Car and marine batteries are taken for free
    • Fluorescent lights: single bulbs $.50 each, 4 foot $.50, 8 foot $1.00. Incandescent bulbs can be recycled in normal recycle stream
    • Televisions/monitors are $1.00 per pound. Maximum of $85 PER item
    • Styrofoam taken for free; must be clean. All colors taken
    • Packing peanuts taken for free. Must be in separate bag or box
    • All other electronics taken for free. If it plugs in or runs on batteries it's considered electronics
    • Textiles and shoes taken for free
    • CD's and DVD's taken for free including their cases
    • VHS tapes and cassettes are no longer being accepted.
    • Election signs and their posts taken for free

 


Living History Open House Tour: Norman and George Powers
April 25
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Powers-Walker House at Glacial Park

Come visit this Greek Revival 1854 restored house and learn more about the resident families that called this area home. April's program centers around the Powers family and honoring their military service. Volunteers in historical attire are available to answer your questions.  NEW THIS YEAR: Registration is required and space is limited. Register Here.

Mother's Day Wildflower Walk
May 9
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Coral Woods

Celebrate Mother's Day by taking walk in the woods as the woodlands spring to life with colorful wildflowers. Join us for a 1.5 mile hike through the woods to take in the beauty of the ever-changing palette of wildflowers. Register Here.

Migratory Bird Days
May 15
8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park

May 16
8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge Turner Tract (N541 County Hwy H, Genoa City WI)

12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Volo Bog (28478 W. Brandenburg Rd., Ingleside, IL)

Brought to you by the Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Audubon, and the McHenry County Conservation District. Learn all about birds at this special event.

May 15, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. (Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial Park):  Activity Stations and Bird Passports are available. Get your passport stamped as you participate in over a dozen games and activities! More stamps = more prizes, including our ever-popular Audubon plush bird that sings its song when squeezed! Door prizes include binoculars, photo prints, and more.

May 16, 8 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. (Turner Tract, Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge): A bird hike by Lakeland Audubon and activities.

May 16, 12 p.m.-4 p.m. (Volo Bog): Activity Stations and Bird Passports are again available. Get your passport stamped as you participate in over a dozen games and activities! More stamps = more prizes, including our ever-popular Audubon plush bird that sings its song when squeezed! Door prizes include binoculars, photo prints, and more. 

Artist Reception: "Observations - Walking in Wonderland" 
May 16
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park

Join us as we celebrate Barbara Schneider's "Observation" series which highlights many of the McHenry County Conservation District sites.

Living History Open House Tour: Just Who is Samuel Walker? 
May 23
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Powers-Walker House at Glacial Park

Come visit this Greek Revival 1854 restored house and learn more about the resident families that called this area home. May's program features Samuel Walker, a prominent and influential man who owned the house in the late 1800s. Volunteers in historical attire are available to answer your questions.  NEW THIS YEAR: Registration is required and space is limited. Register Here.

First Fridays Concerts: Tiny Country
Friday, June 4  |  7 - 8:30pm
Glacial Park, Ringwood

Join us the first Friday of each month this summer for an evening at a beautiful and intimate outdoor setting where you can spread out and listen to the music. Bring a picnic dinner, soak in the beautiful view and sunset from the Lost Valley Visitor Center patio, and enjoy talented, local musicians play some originals and old favorites. A scenic detour from a familiar road, Tiny Country takes you through the twists and turns of Americana music. They have been winning hearts with their original songwriting and intriguing cover song selection. The group features Despina Pafralides on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Chris Grant on Telecaster/fiddle, and Kim Sheya on upright bass and backing vocals. With the recent addition of Jarrett Hicks on drums and percussion, the band has been transforming their bluegrass roots into driving country with a hint of the rockabilly feel. Please note: Registration is required and space is limited to ensure social distancing. Register early before we sell out! No glass please. Face coverings are required to and from your seat.

Powers-Walker House: Meet Mary Powers
Sunday, June 13  |  Tours begin at Noon, every hour until 3pm
Glacial Park, Ringwood

Come visit this Greek Revival 1854 restored house and learn more about the resident families that called this area home. June's Open House is about the first lady to raise a family in this house. Volunteers in historical attire are available to answer your questions.

Hooked on Fishing
Saturday, June 12  |  9am - Noon
Rush Creek, Harvard
Sunday, June 13  |  9am - Noon
The Hollows, Cary

Bring the whole family out for a fun day of fishing, prizes, and more! For this event a fishing license is not required. Bring your own fishing gear or borrow ours! Children get first preference on poles - first come, first served. Adult supervision of children is required.

First Fridays Concerts: Sinful Saints Dixieland Band
Friday, July 2  |  7 - 8:30pm
Glacial Park, Ringwood

Join us the first Friday of each month this summer for an evening at a beautiful and intimate outdoor setting where you can spread out and listen to the music. Bring a picnic dinner, soak in the beautiful view and sunset from the Lost Valley Visitor Center patio, and enjoy talented, local musicians play some originals and old favorites. The Sinful Saints Dixieland Band has been entertaining the people of Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin since founder Tom McDermott pulled this crew together in 1994. The Saints play music from the heyday of Dixieland, as well as traditional jazz from the 20’s and 30’s, and tunes from Dixieland’s Revival in the 1950’s. If it stomps, floats or struts, the Saints are probably playing it! Please note: Registration is required and space is limited to ensure social distancing. Register early before we sell out! No glass please. Face coverings are required to and from your seat.

Powers-Walker House: Over There and Over Here
Sunday, July 18  |  Tours start at Noon, every hour until 3pm
Glacial Park, Ringwood

Come visit this Greek Revival 1854 restored house and learn more about the families that once called it home. This open house features the Miller family who inhabited the area during the World War I era. Volunteers in historical attire will be on hand to answer questions. Enjoy the war-time memorabilia and listen to the stories of both the home-front and the soldiers' perspective from this important conflict that changed our world.

First Fridays Concerts: Bourbon Country
Friday, August 6  |  7 - 8:30pm
Glacial Park, Ringwood

Join us the first Friday of each month this summer for an evening at a beautiful and intimate outdoor setting where you can spread out and listen to the music. Bring a picnic dinner, soak in the beautiful view and sunset from the Lost Valley Visitor Center patio, and enjoy talented, local musicians play some originals and old favorites. With a sound as sweet as its name, the acoustic driven duo of Bourbon Country blend ultra tight harmonies and smooth but driving guitars, to give a rich, dynamic sound to your favorite past and present country and rock hits. Bourbon Country continues to evolve, expanding its musical palette but always delivering the best in popular music from multiple styles. The blend works perfectly and allows Bourbon Country to ensure that everyone in the audience will hear great songs they love. Please note: Registration is required and space is limited to ensure social distancing. Register early before we sell out! No glass please. Face coverings are required to and from your seat.

Glacial Park Team Challenge
Saturday, August 7  |  8am - 2:30pm
North Branch, Richmond (start)

Grab a friend or two for this non-competitive biking, paddling, and off-trail hiking adventure. This recreational triathlon starts at the North Branch Conservation Area with a light breakfast and information on the ecosystems you will venture through during the event. You will pedal 14 miles, hike/run five miles, and paddle seven miles. Participants need to bring a bike, but canoe/kayak equipment is provided. Refreshments and snack stands will be available along the course and at the end. Participants receive a Glacial Park Challenge t-shirt to remember this momentous day.

Powers-Walker House: Life and Times of WWII
Sunday, August 15  |  Tours start at Noon, every hour until 3pm
Glacial Park, Ringwood

Come visit this Greek Revival 1854 restored house and learn more about the families that once called it home. This open house features the Schaeffer and Steinmetz families, who lived in the area during the World War II era. Volunteers in historical attire will be on hand to answer questions. Enjoy the war-time memorabilia and listen to the stories of both the home-front and the soldiers' perspective from this important conflict that changed our world.

50th Anniversary Celebration Event
Saturday, August 14  |  11 am - 2pm
Fel-Pro RRR

You are invited! McHenry County Conservation District is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and we want to THANK YOU for making it possible! Join us for food trucks, music, cultural history exhibits, memories wall and photo booth, fishing pole casting, hatchet throwing, monarchs & butterfly craft, sidewalk chalk contest, wildlife ecology and fisheries "live tank" demo, habitat restoration explained, giveaways, prizes and MORE! 

The Great Outdoors Beer Trail
Saturday, September 25  |  2-6pm
Fel-Pro RRR

If you love sampling good craft beer and spending time outdoors, this event is for you! Walk the one mile partially wooded, paved trail while visiting various regional brewers along the way. Play a pick up game of bags, listen to music, enjoy some tasty bites from local food trucks. Tickets available on EventBrite starting July 9. Event is open to ages 21+. This is a dog friendly event—leash required. Site is closed to all other users during the event and closes at sunset. 

Tickets:
Early Bird: $40 (Before August 1)
Includes 3 oz. tastes from multiple brewers + souvenir tasting glass
VIP: $50 (Limited tickets available)
Includes one-hour early access & promo goodie bag
Late Bird: $45 (Before September 1)
Includes 3 oz. tastes from multiple brewers + souvenir tasting glass
Designated Driver: $10
Includes water/soda & commemorative glass