"Quit hanging on to the handrails... Let go. Surrender. Go for the ride of your life. Do it everyday"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wanderlust Wednesday

Destination:  Starved Rock State Park, Utica, IL

I have to say that I LOVE state parks!  They are usually run very well and are hidden gems in the travel world.  You can find some of the same beautiful scenary as you can at more well known places.  I haven't been to any of the state park lodges, but have heard good things about them as well.  If I ever stay at one, I will let everybody know how it is.  Onward to our Wanderlust Wednesday destination for this week.
St. Louis Canyon waterfall at the park

Starved Rock State Park is located outside of Utica, IL which is about two hours south of the Chicago suburbs.  It's a beautiful area full of hiking trails and waterfalls!  Who'd have thought that Illinois could be a treasure trove of waterfalls?  Most of the waterfalls are mostly active during the late spring months and/or after heavy rains.  The waterfall at St. Louis Canyon has the capability of flowing all year long.  When we went in October it was one of the only waterfalls still left flowing in the park.  If you enjoy photographing birds of prey (i.e. bald eagles) and can visit during the winter months (Jan-Early March) you can spot them soaring in the sky at the park.  They also have sled dog demos during January and February.  You also have the Illinois River flowing through the park and they have hiking trails that go along the banks.

If you have a couple of days and would like to see the sights outside of the park, you can take a ride on an old fashioned paddlewheel boat, canoe and/or kayak on the Fox River.  You can even white water raft down the Vermillion River!  I don't know of many other places in Illinois that can offer that!  Just for the kids there is Grizzly Jacks Resort, which has an indoor waterpark and amusement park located right next to the state park.  Great fun for all!

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