Photo Credit: Ellen Rathbone


Harry and Fannie Severson loved nature. To preserve their 369-acres family farm located four miles southwest of Rockford, the Seversons donated their land to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District in 1975, and the Nature Center opened shortly thereafter. The forest preserve features 2.5 miles of self-guided nature trails, and a hard-surfaced trail, 2/3 of a mile in length that is accessible year-round. A booklet available at the trailhead explains points of particular interest, and guided walks for the general public held frequently throughout the year. 

Open year round, the Severson Dells Nature Center is housed in a converted deer lodge and includes a library, bookstore, classroom, conference room, and display area. The nature center and its staff have provided environmental education programs for tens of thousands of residents of northern Illinois over its 41 years of operating through a wide variety of programming including school field trip programs, summer camps, guided hikes, and lectures to name a few.