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Matthiessen State Park
Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately four miles south of Utica and three miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for a special outing.
Belle of the Rock
The Belle of the Rock paddle boat tours are located at historic Starved Rock state park in Utica, Illinois (just 80 miles west of Chicago). In addition to the river tours, we provide canoes and kayaks. Call us today at 815-434-9200 to make your reservation.
Starved Rock State Park
Seasonal waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs and rugged canyons dominate the storied landscape at Starved Rock. Rich with history and beauty, Starved Rock’s hiking trails meander through towering trees and scenic overlooks along the Illinois River. Outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing, paddle boat cruises, cross-country skiing, trolley rides, fishing and picnicking. Visitors can stay at the historic Starved Rock Lodge or in one of its cozy cabins.
Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort and Enchanted Forest
Discover a magical family getaway just beyond the glow of Chicago at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort. Nestled in the Starved Rock area of Illinois, Grizzly Jack's is an oasis of relaxation and adventure - a destination where water park fun meets natural wonder. Escape from the big city and enjoy a vacation in the scenic Northwoods at Grizzly Jack's - an unforgettable place to unwind, play, meet, dine and explore with family and friends.
Matthiessen State Park
Enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing and more in this state park known for its waterfalls, bluffs and canyons.
Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center
The Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center has several interactive displays, free videos on the park, hiking maps, and more. Trailheads Concessions & Gifts, also located here, is a great place to buy gifts, souvenirs, and snacks (fresh fudge, too)! The Visitor Center and Trailheads are open year-round.
Matthiessen State Park - Cross Country Skiing
Five miles of scenic trails amidst a spectacular geological backdrop enable hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, runners and cross-country skiers to experience a peaceful jaunt through the park, while families congregate around fully-equipped, shaded picnic areas neighboring playgrounds, trailheads and 17th-Century restored French fort.
Starved Rock State Park East Hike
Starved Rock State Park has a beautiful East Hike that offers canyons galore, each with slightly different shapes, sizes and colorings. At 6.4 miles of dirt terrain, this hike is moderately difficult. Cool, shady and overgrown with ferns, the canyons offer a plethora of trees and flowering plants—a true delight to explore. You’ll also encounter scenic overlooks 100 feet above the Illinois River. The real crowd pleasers at Starved Rock are the numerous sandstone canyons that were carved deep into the bedrock as upland streams drained into the Illinois River. Some noted canyons of worth to explore are Kaskaskia Canyon, Ottawa Canyon and Hennepin Canyon Overlook.
Starved Rock State Park West Hike
Starved Rock State Park West Hike offers a decidedly different set of attractions than its eastern counterpart. On this hike you’ll encounter a series of overlooks from wooded bluffs and rocky cliffs high above the Illinois River. This 2.9-mile hike varies in difficulty due to the large amount of stairs that need climbing. The dominant feature of Starved Rock can be found on this hike, via a narrow bluff that runs 4-miles along the south branch of the Illinois River. The park’s namesake towers 125 feet above the river, offering commanding views of the nearby islands and river. Some notable excursions include, French Canyon, Wildcat Canyon and Pontiac Canyon with sweeping views of the Illinois River.
Illinois River at Starved Rock State Park
The Illinois River slices a 273-mile long path through the state—but it’s in Utica where the Illinois River meets Starved Rock State Park. With 18 canyons, and sandstone bluffs for four miles, Starved Rock State Park is one of Illinois’ treasured nature habitats. On your journey down the river, your eyes will never tire from all the wildlife that call the river home. From Black-crowed heron, river otters, Western ribbon snakes, even bald eagles. Whether you’re kayaking or canoeing, you’ll experience the shear power of the winding river that was carved by glacial melt water in all its seasonal colors, with its various incarnations of forests, wetlands, bluffs and prairies to enjoy.
Mautino State Fish and Wildlife Area
Encompasses 871 acres of mostly unreclaimed strip-mining land. The area is dotted with some 15 stocked lakes for fishing. Be aware that shore access is limited and that shorelines tend to drop off suddenly into deep water.
Hennepin Canal Bike Paths
The Hennepin Canal Parkway follows an old towpath that was actually never used, although the locks and aqueducts are in still in place. It was originally built to link the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The 105-mile path is level and easy; however, water is scarce along the way (found only at locks 21, 22 and the Visitor Center), so be sure to bring plenty, especially during hot days. The landscape varies from forest to grasslands to marsh to farmland, and the trail is particularly pleasing during fall, when the leaves are changing colors. The Hennepin Canal Parkway has become a cyclist's paradise and an exceptional spot for fishing, birding, horseback riding and a wealth of outdoor recreation.
Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail
The Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail located just south of Rock Falls is where you will pick up this medium to difficult trail. Cyclists, hikers and anglers come to enjoy the stocked waters, the peaceful wooded banks and the abundance of bird life. As the trail heads south toward the rural countryside the path frees itself from the throngs of people allowing you to enjoy the serene environment all to yourself.
Bureau County Metro Center
The Bureau County Metro Center is a 50,000 square-foot recreation center with full size gymnasium; 25-yard indoor swimming pool with wading pool and observation balcony; racquetball courts; weight room; cardio-vascular room, elevated running/walking track above the gym; and locker rooms. A 40' x 80' multi-purpose room with adjacent kitchen provides the perfect setting for conventions, expositions, meetings, or wedding receptions.
Captain Swift Covered Bridge
Located one mile west of Princeton in Bureau County, Illinois is the Captain Swift Covered Bridge. Built in 2006, the bridge derives its strength from its burr arch design, an idea patented by Theodore Burr of New York in 1804. Made entirely of wood using 1800s concepts (it has an outer skin of Douglas Fir), the Captain Swift Covered Bridge is the only two-lane covered bridge in Illinois. It has a 16’-3” vertical clearance, a 28 foot minimum roadway width and a 128’ span over the Big Bureau Creek. GPS co-ordinates - N41 22.745 W89 29.871
A Hundred Acres Orchard and Market
A fun-filled orchard featuring apples, berries, melons. The indoor market is filled with jams, jellies, sauces, dips, salsas, candy and homemade "take n bake" pies. Also unique is the Krazy Kernel Kettle Korn, produced right in Princeton! Specialty cheeses, such as Antonella, Buffalo Wing Jack, and Tomato Basil Yellow Cheddar are also available. Pair these cheeses with some of the wines that are sold in the new wine shop, or enjoy your purchase on the newly constructed outdoor patio area. The Cider Mill banquet room has been expanded to accommodate 200 guests, so plan your wedding, reception, party, or reunion here!
Hornbaker Gardens is a family owned and operated nursery specializing in perennial flowers. Large collections of hostas, daylilies, iris and other perennials draw plant enthusiasts from all over the Midwest to this nursery in the country. Whatever we get interested in as gardeners, we seem to start providing for our customers as well. Thus, the offerings of granite and pottery, bronze sculptures and rusty metal artwork. In 2008, we put up a new building which we call The Shop at Hornbaker Gardens. It is stocked with garden art and other garden accessories where you are sure to find something unique for your garden.
Starved Rock Adventures Harbor Villas and Suites
Waterfront family villas and suites. 1-2 bedroom housekeeping units. Deluxe and unique. Open April through October. $$
Black Sock Training Stable
A variety of equestrian services for beginning to advanced riders. Personalized professional instruction and scheduled trail rides.
Buffalo Rock State Park
On the bluffs of the Illinois River, this small but charming park is home to an enormous outdoor sculpture. Mounds representing five earthen sculptures molded from Illinois clay, known as Effigy Tumuli, invite visitors to walk around and explore. All five subjects, including a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and insect are native to the Illinois River area. This State Park offers the ideal terrain for the beginner hiker.
C & M Canoe Rental
Visit our friendly pub, canoe scenic Fox River.
Pine Hills Golf Club
Described as a Canyon Course complete with bluffs, valleys, hills and hundreds of trees. It is a challenge to both the beginner and the seasoned golfer and is recognized by many players as one of the finest 9-hole facilities in the country. The Club House offers a friendly atmosphere and includes a Pro-Shop, full service bar & restaurant with panoramic views of the Course and outdoor patio.
Skydive Chicago offers the best entertainment in the Midwest! The 220-acre resort offers camping, canoeing, hiking, fishing and swimming, all onsite. Stop by today!
Illinois Waterway Visitor Center
View Starved Rock Lock & Dam. Enjoy interacting with towboat Pilot House. Learn Illinois River's unique history and watch wildlife (bald eagles in winter).