Severson Dells

Nature Preserve Area: 
Location and Access: 
From southwest of Rockford at interchange of Hwy. 20 & Montague Road, take Montague Road southwest 4 mi. to Severson Dells Forest Preserve. The nature preserve is in the forest preserve, which is south of the road.

Special Note: The original Severson house has been converted into an interpretive center. Many educational opportunities exist and weekend programs are provided.

Severson Dells Nature Preserve contains remnants of the original dry-mesic upland forest, mesic floodplain forest, and dolomite cliff communities of the Freeport Section of the Rock River Hill Country Natural Division. In 1975, the area was donated to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District by Fannie Severson in memory of her husband. The conditions of this donation was that the area be maintained in its natural condition. One of the attractive features at the preserve is a series of cliffs known as the dells which were formed by receding glacial meltwaters. The cliffs reach to 40 feet in some places. Many unique plants restricted to limestone and dolomite outcrops such as bulblet fern, smooth cliffbrake, and maiden hair fern are found here. Northern relict plants such as Canada yew and white pine occur on north facing cliffs. The upland forest is dominated by white oak, hickory, and cherry, while the floodplain is dominated by bur oak, swamp white oak, walnut and box elder. Dolomite prairie containing porcupine grass and little bluestem also occur in this preserve. Aldo Leopold and Paul Riis conducted some early deer studies in an area including this preserve in the mid 1930's.
Winnebago County Forest Preserve District
September 1982
21.7 acres nature preserve, 18.1 acres buffer
Topographic Quad: 
Topo Map: 
For further information: 
Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, 5500 Northrock Dr., Rockford, IL 61103 (815/877-6100)

1/2009 - R. Heidorn