Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Starved Rock State Park

One of my absolute favorite places to hike in the state of Illinois is Starved Rock State Park.  Starved Rock is the #1 attraction in the state and is located about an hour SW of Chicago.  They have 13 miles of trails to explore but their claim to fame is the sandstone canyons - they are gorgeous any time of the year.

Starved Rock has a really interesting history, which I am sharing here courtesy of Wikipedia....

Before European contact, the area was home to Native Americans, particularly the Kaskaskia who lived in the Grand Village of the Illinois across the river. Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans recorded as exploring the region, and by 1683, the French had established Fort St. Louis on a large sandstone butte overlooking the river, they called Le Rocher (the Rock). Later after the French had moved on, according to a local legend, a group of Native Americans of the Illinois Confederation (also called Illiniwek or Illini) pursued by the Ottawa and Potawatomi fled to the butte in the late 18th century. The Ottawa and Potawatomi besieged the butte until all of the Illiniwek had starved, and the butte became known as "Starved Rock". The area around The Rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

We saw a lot of wild turkey as we were driving through the park....

This is the view from the bridge between the parking lot and the Lodge....

The Lodge is huge and houses a restaurant, meeting rooms, lodging rooms and a gift shop....

There also happens to be a geocache hidden there, which we quickly found before we hit the trails.  First things first, right??

One of the nice things about the canyons is that you can walk into them and climb all over them, which is half the fun.  This time of year the canyons are fairly dry, but in the spring when the snow starts melting, the waterfalls are beautiful and the canyon bottoms fill with water.

This time we went on a Friday in November and it was a good choice, because we had the trails practically to ourselves.  During the summer and on the weekends it gets very crowded.

The trails are a wonderful combination of dirt, paved road, rock or boardwalks.....

Here we are at the top of Starved Rock, over looking the river.  We missed the peak fall colors by about a week, but the trees still put on a pretty good show....

The far point across the bay was Lovers Leap and Eagle's Cliff and that was our next destination...

Louie wasn't leaping off of any cliffs for me.....

The boards walks here are extensive and very nicely built.  It was a great place to sit and enjoy the view.  Plus, it was a beautiful day and the temperatures were just right for hiking...

Wildcat Canyon was my favorite.  When you walk into the canyons the temperature really takes a dip.

To get a feel for the size of the canyons, look closely and you can see Chablis in the center of the photo....

Once we left Wildcat Canyon we had a massive series of stairs to climb.  This is the view from half way up them....

By this time Louie was really happy to see the Return sign.  I think that last set of stairs did him in!

 By then we were pretty darn hungry so we high tailed it to town and grabbed some burgers for lunch...

If you're looking for a great place to hike in Illinois, you need to visit Starved Rock.  It's a gem of a place.  Plus, any time of year is beautiful.  I've been there many times and during all the seasons, and each is special for its own reason.  

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  1. Nice coverage- place I didn't know about

  2. You can see so much more when the leaves are down like this. Very different from the flat trails here in FL. Looks like fun! Hugs!

    1. It is fun and I always look forward to going there.

  3. I have been there. Very different terrain than what one usually thinks of Illinois. Very cool!

    1. I agree - one would never think of something like that in the middle of Illinois.

  4. Those canyons are gorgeous! I'll bet they look lovely in the spring with water cascading down them.

  5. I have added it to my list of places to go...we were supposed to go there last Friday, but then the weather took a turn for the worst and it was freezing and drizzly rain, darn!
    I loved seeing all your photos though, it looks amazing!!
    And...was that an A&W restaurant you went to? The sign says Rootbeer, but the character looks like an A&W guy??? I have not seen an A&W since we left Canada, it was one of my favorite fast food places!
    Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

    1. I hope you get to go because you will love it there.

      I think it WAS an A&W restaurant at one time. It's not called that now but that's what my husband said too.

  6. LOVE the canyons, I bet that was a lot of fun!!!! Thanks for all the wonderful pictures, it's just Gorgeous!!!

  7. What a funny (I mean, great) name, Starved Rock!
    That's a pretty picture of Chablis leaning against the fence!

    1. That was my favorite picture of her too. I told her I may blow that one up and frame it. Thanks.

  8. Wow! I had no idea there were canyons like that in Illinois! I thought you would find sights like that out west! What an amazing place, Kim!
    I would be like Louie....thankful to finally reach the end of the climb..lol
    Great photos! You guys sure enjoy "life"! That's one of the things I love about you.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks Sweetie - it's certainly a hidden gem in Illinois.

      You have a wonderful Thanksgiving too. xo


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