When I visit a place I really enjoy exploring and uncovering hidden gems. Since I’m a die hard road tripper this includes surrounding areas of wherever I may be. While I visited Chicago last summer I searched for things to do within driving distance of the windy city. Starved Rock State park turned out to be the perfect place to spend the day since I love exercising outdoors and being surrounded by nature.
Starved Rock State Park is only a one and half hour drive from the city of Chicago along the south bank of the Illinois River. It is a pleasant surprise since most of Illinois consists of flat prairies. It was formed thousands of years ago by melting glaciers. The water rushed and eroded everything except the sandstone. Today you can see steep rock walls, cool dark valleys, bluffs, gorges and canyons.
Planning your Visit
Before you go I highly recommend checking the website or calling the park for conditions. I visited on a very hot afternoon toward the end of July. The park had experienced lots of flooding, which meant parts were inaccessible which limited the things to do. Flooding is common in the area and some people even recommend hiking in rain boots. So call ahead and find out what to bring.
Upon arrival we parked near the lodge where there were plenty of empty spaces. Head inside and grab yourself a map. They have a visitor’s center, gift shop and dining if you need supplies. In addition there are many other lots to park at depending on how long or far you want to go and what you want to see.
Since we were only there for a few hours we chose the trail leading us to the bluff and gorgeous views of the Illinois River. It was very hot that day. You can experience all four season on any given day in Illinois so I recommend layers you can take off and put on as needed. Each person in the group had their own water and snack supply. These are not easy trails. If you do not exercise regularly you may find the trails challenging. The boardwalk has many many many stairs, which take you up and down for miles and miles. There are also dirt paths you can take all throughout the park. Some were quite muddy and we had to make many detours. Our trail led us through a lush green forest of oak and hickory trees, through the canyon and to a grand view of the Illinois River.
Hours: Visitors Center: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00pm
Prices: Free to Public. Prices for tours, activities and boat rentals vary.
This is one place I would love to come back and visit to explore the other trails. During the springtime there are waterfalls and during winter ice falls and that is something I’d love to see.
Have you been?
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