Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock is not only one of the best parks in Illinois, but one of the most beautiful destinations in the state. There are thirteen miles of trails with spectacular waterfalls and canyons through – and extraordinary icicles and ice fishing in the winter. Make sure you have enough time to explore this park by staying at the historic Starved Rock Lodge.
Cave-in-Rock State Park
Cave-in-Rock State Park, within the Shawnee National Forest, has high bluffs overlooking the Ohio River. There’s good fishing and the 55-foot-wide cave, which was naturally carved out of the limestone rock by the water, is a must see.
Illinois & Michigan Canal State Park
The history of the Illinois & Michigan Canal goes back to the 17th century, when Native Americans and French explorers Marquette and Joliet realized it’s value in the trade industry. In 1823, Illinois created a commission for construction of this canal, connecting the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan through the Illinois River. This scenic 96-mile route is worth exploring for its beauty as well as its historical significance.
Pere Marquette State Park
Pere Marquette State Park contains a mecca of bluffs and wildlife along the Illinois River. Bike and hiking trails take you through history, geology, and amazing sunsets. The Lodge at overlooks the river and has an indoor pool, restaurant, and a winery, with cabins also for rent.
Fern Clyffe State Park
Fern displays, rocky bluffs, picturesque woods, and geological features make Fern Clyffe State Park a popular hiking area. Don’t miss the 150-foot Hawks Cave and the Big Rocky Hollow Trail, which has a 100-foot waterfall. The scenery is most spectacular in the fall.
Buffalo Rock State Park
Buffalo Rock State Park was once an island in the Illinois River. The 98-acre park has two American bison, Also check out the “Effigy Tumuli,” an earthwork tribute to the Native Americans who call this land home.
Mississippi Palisades State Park
Mississippi Palisades has 2,500 acres of caves, bluffs, sink holes, and rock formations along the Mississippi and Apple rivers. It’s a good park for bird watchers, with woodpeckers in the spring and fall, and eagles in the winter.
Hidden Springs State Forest
The 1,2000 acres is a striking area of native trees, including ash, sugar maple, black walnut, sycamore, and a variety of oaks. The complex terrain provides hiking for all abilities.
Walnut Point State Park
The nearly 700 acres of Walnut Point State Park have been set aside for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and winter cross-country skiing. The scenery is breathtaking all year round and a lot of it, thanks to tree-lined roadways, can be viewed from motor vehicles. A 65-acre nature preserve, Upper Embarrass Woods, is a prairie restoration plot within the park.
Kickapoo State Park
At the site of a former surface mining operation, Kickapoo State Park offers a lot more than scenic exploration. These 2,842 acres include crystal clear water in some of its 22 ponds. Here you can not only fish and boat, but snorkel and scuba dive as well.