Monday, September 8, 2014

Brief Trip to Starved Rock {Illinois}


**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Over Labor Day Weekend, we took a spur of the moment trip to Starved Rock in Utica, Illinois. Starved Rock State Park is quite a unique site in the Northeast Corner of Illinois since it consists of canyons and bluffs. Yes, that means there is elevation! Starved Rock was formed when receding glaciers spurned torrents of water which eroded all of the bedrock in its path except the sandstone leaving the formations we see today.
The lovely park is full of caverns, waterfalls, overlooks, wildlife and more. Since admission is free, you can imagine what a popular place it is on a holiday weekend! We had to wait a bit for a spot but were actually happy to see how many families took advantage of the wonderful weather to picnic and hike. I always love to see others enjoying nature and hope that it instills a lasting appreciation.

The locks!
The preserve has many hiking trails. Since the preserve is so beautiful, you cannot choose a wrong trail! You can choose trails that fit your hiking ability and length of stay. Some of the trails are certainly more challenging than others in regards to length and steepness. For our visit, we visited a couple of the overlook areas with shorter paths. First, we headed to Lover's Leap and the Eagle Cliff Overlook. The path to these overlooks was largely a boardwalk with stairs which made the trip more manageable. The park was so busy that there literally was a stream of people heading to Lover's Leap. Fortunately, the crowd thinned out by the Eagle Cliff Overlook. From the Eagle Cliff Overlook, you can see the locks on the Illinois River. (Pictured above.) There were tons of pelicans swimming in the river near the locks. What a sight to see!

Did I say PELICANS?
After visiting Eagle Cliff Overlook, we headed to Starved Rock itself. The climb up Starved Rock was a tad steep but worth it. What a view:

A view of Lover's Leap from Starved Rock.
Next, we ambled through the Visitor's Center which housed a small interactive learning area. We learned that the area was originally settled by Native Americans including the Kaskaskia Tribe. The French explores Jolliet and Marquette explored the area and the French Fort Saint Louis once stood atop Starved Rock! Neat history!

Depiction of Fort Saint Louis on Starved Rock.
Some tips for future visits to Starved Rock:
  • Check for hummingbirds by the Visitor's Center. When we were there, they were flying around like crazy!
  • Eagles migrate to Starved Rock in the winter, so you many want to keep tabs on the status of the migration for a nice winter visit.
  • Bring bags for garbage. There are not garbage cans along each trail.
  • Bring plenty of water. P-L-E-N-T-Y
  • Grab a map at the Visitor's Center. While the trails were fairly well laid out, there still was room for getting turned around.
  • The Visitor's Center has brief hours and is closed during many days of the week during winter. Make sure you are aware of the hours before going.
  • The Visitor's Center houses a snack shop, gift shop and restrooms along with an information center and interactive exhibit area.
I have been to Starved Rock during various seasons including winter and can say that it is a stunning natural space throughout the year. Truly worth a visit or two or three! We have only reached the tip of the iceberg in exploring and will be back!

6 comments:

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    1. Yup--pelicans! I didn't believe it until I researched when I got home. Pretty cool!

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  2. I definitely did not know about this part of Illinois! So beautiful! Sometimes the best trips are spontaneous!

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    1. Gretchen--definitely worth the trip!

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  3. I haven't visited Starved Rock since I was a kid. Definitely on our list of things to do!

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    1. Amanda--it has been on our list for awhile. We had a free day, so carpe diem and worth it! I do hope to stay down there some time soon, too--I feel like we could actually relax!

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