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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.
Full-service Conference Center in Starved Rock State Park. Dining room, bar, veranda, outdoor dining, indoor pool (for Lodge guests). Retreats, meetings, banquets, reunions and all-inclusive dream weddings. The Lodge has 69 rooms and 21 cabin rooms in a rustic, wooded setting.
Central Illinois lake with over 11,000 water acres and 172 miles of shoreline. Lake Shelbyville has 5 federal campgrounds, and 2 state campgrounds with over 1,000 campsites from tent camping up to full hookup. There are several recreational areas with picnic areas and pavilions and 2 wildlife management areas. Three public beaches are available for swimming on the lake. The lake also hosts many launching ramps that are available for boats, and 3 marinas on the lake. Many hiking trails also encompass the lake such as the General Dacey which also includes fitness stations, the Chief Illini trail and others.
The Illinois River slices a 273-mile long path through the state—its waters lapping along the shores of many cities, including LaSalle, Peru, Peoria and Ottawa to name just a few. It’s in Ottawa where the Illinois River meets Buffalo Rock. Buffalo Rock sits like a sandstone island above the surrounding land and the Illinois River, and offers sweeping views of this famed waterway. 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.
Renowned for its ancient cypress-tupelo swamp, this natural area has been named one of America's 10 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems by Budget Travel. This sprawling area contains 100 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, and 11 state champion trees that have stood for centuries. Visitors enjoy birding, hunting, wildlife watching, canoeing and hiking. Bikers can access the Cache River via the Tunnel Hill State Trail.
From kayaking and biking to scooter rentals, Fever River Outfitters has everything you need to add a little adventure to your Galena getaway. The staff here knows the area well and offers excursions that take care of every detail—whether you’re kayaking to an island picnic or taking a scooter to a vineyard for an afternoon wine tasting. Want to explore on your own? Simply rent or purchase outdoor gear and set off on your own adventure along the many biking paths, waterways and winding roads of this scenic part of northwest Illinois.
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.
Scenic biking and hiking along a six-mile trail featuring views of the Galena River and towering bluffs.
Find serenity at this beautiful 1700-acre wooded park situated along an old stagecoach route between Galena and Beardstown. Featuring 95-acre Argyle Lake, the park is home to countless beaver dams and more than 200 bird species and 5 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Offers gas, bait, tackle, ice, beer, groceries, contour maps and camping with water and electricity. Open all year. Located at the northeastern edge of the lake.
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.
Saw Wee Kee Park sits along the south shore of the Fox River. Located in Oswego this park has an abundance of fun, advanced mountain bike singletrack trails to conquer. These 5 miles of steep inclines and quick descents will give you plenty of stories to tell your friends. While you are there you can also fish, kayak and canoe along the Fox River.
A quiet cove at dawn, where the only sound is the whir of a casting reel and the gentle splash of the fly hitting the water’s surface...that’s Lake Sara. A sunny afternoon slalom skiing behind a powerboat or running along the beach...that’s Lake Sara. A family picnic in the grass at water’s edge or a family reunion, with fried chicken and the works, under one of the pavilions...that’s Lake Sara. Lake Sara is an 800-acre recreational lake nestled into a wooded shoreline, encircled by a winding road. Spend a day, a week, or a season on the shores of Lake Sara. Lake Sara has something for everyone, in every season of the year.
This outfitter in Oglesby offers river rafting excursions on the Class 3 rapids of this popular stretch of the Vermillion River. With 14 sets of rapids on this 9-1/2 mile trip, Vermillion River Rafting will supply you with whatever your party needs: from rafts, paddles, life vests even rafting instructions. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends and for parties of 5 or more.
Lake of Egypt is a privately owned reservoir located six miles south of Marion, Illinois and covers 2,300 acres with 90 miles of shoreline. The lake has an average depth of 18 feet. The lake is owned by the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (SIPC), who created the impoundment in 1962, by damming the South fork of the Saline River, to supply cooling water for a coal-burning electric power plant.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located primarily in Williamson County, with small extensions into eastern Jackson and northeastern Union counties of southern Illinois. At almost 44,000 acres and with three lakes (Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, and Devils Kitchen,) endless opportunities abound for watching wildlife, hiking nature trails, photography, swimming, fishing from the bank or by boat, and hunting. Four seasonally operational campgrounds are open from April-October and offer full hook-up, water, electric, or non-electric sites. Refuge staff and volunteers at the visitor center welcome visitors and sightseers 7 days a week from 8am-4:30pm. Visitor activities such as guided hikes, bald eagle tours, and monthly F.U.N. programs help connect families with the diversity of flora and fauna that Southern Illinois has to offer. The Refuge provides many opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation for the nature lover in us all.
Located on the northeast corner of Johnston City, this 35-acre lake includes a paved boat ramp for fishing, walking path, and campground. Only electric motors and canoes are permitted. You will find largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black and white crappie, and channel catfish in this small reservoir. Pedal boat rentals are available from July-September.
Lusk Creek Canyon is the most well known whitewater run in Southern Illinois. The creek starts out in woodland bottoms with relatively minor gradient but soon is surrounded by rocky hillsides and cliffs. These cliffs rise out of the water to heights over one hundred feet. After the canyon section, the cliffs recede and the creek is surrounded by forest for the final mile. Rapids on this creek are at low to moderate levels and are mostly Class II in nature. However, this is not a good beginner run. This creek flows through forests before entering the canyon.
Bobber’s is an open-deck, outdoor bar along the banks of the Pecatonica River. It is a relaxing stop for travelers by road or river. Bring your own pole or just sit and relax with a cold drink as you watch the river flow by. Weekly entertainment on the Pontoon Boat stage; never a cover charge. Open: May thru October: Sunday: 11 am - 10 pm; Thursday thru Saturday: 11 am - 2 am.
With over 3,000 acres of rolling plains and two lakes, Rock Cut State Park is a hiker's paradise. It's also home to some of the best mountain biking in northeastern Illinois, offering 10 miles of dirt and sand terrain, doubletrack and singletrack trails. One of the loops is 4.25-miles, the Main Trail, which runs around Pierce Lake. Another loop snakes around the northeast corner of the park and leads through dense trees and hills.
The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area consists of 2,700 acres of grass, forest and cropland, and wildlife habitat. The area also includes a portion of the Middle Fork River, a State and National Scenic River, with over 1,000 feet of scenic corridor for canoeing and fishing. The area also allows for hunting, hiking, picnicking, and camping.
Located 4 miles north of I-80 at exit 19 and adjacent to the historic Hennepin Canal. Shady, quiet camping in the midst of nature's wonders. Spend a night in one of our four rustic cabins. Try the Yurt Accommodations. It is 20 foot diameter, and sleeps 8. It has one queen bed and 2 bunk beds with a full on bottom and twin on top Rent a canoe or kayak and relax on historic Hennepin Canal. Bring you own bicycle or simply walk to enjoy the recreational trail along the Hennepin Canal. The town of Geneseo has great Victorian homes with welcoming porches. In additional to the RV camp sites, there are 12 tent sites available. Internet services on site.
One of the most picturesque sites along the Rock River is just north of Oregon in Ogle County. The bluffs are graced with a majestic image of an American Indian gazing over the Rock River Valley. This is no ordinary statue. It is a 50 foot, concrete-reinforced wonder that is awe-inspiring. A tribute to all Native Americans, but more commonly associated with Chief Black Hawk, the statue was designed by sculptor Lorado Taft. You can enjoy many wonderful views of the Rock River from the park, but the best view of the statue is from IL Rt. 2.
This beautiful Freeport park offers an antique carousel, waterfall, seasonal duck pond, miniature golf course, 18-hole disc golf course, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, 3 miles of recreational paths, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, fishing, hiking, biking, a performance amphitheater, gardens, picnic areas, shelters, boat rentals, playgrounds including "Kid's Kastle", a carousel and sledding in the winter. The Yellow Creek Adventure Golf Course (miniature golf) is open daily from Memorial Day thru Labor Day from Noon to Dusk. The Disc Golf Course is open during regular park hours and is free to play. Park attractions are open seasonally; call ahead to confirm availability of specific attractions.