Rating: ★★★★☆(4/5) - Worth a Trip
The most popular state park in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park features sandstone bluffs and canyons along the Illinois River, about an hour and a half southwest of Chicago. In the summer, the shady forest and cool canyons help you escape the heat, and in the winter, waterfalls freeze and bald eagles soar above the Illinois River. You can either camp in one of the 133 sites in the main campground or spend the night in the historic lodge, which is the largest in the state park system and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With over 12 miles of trails in the park, hiking is one of the best ways to experience the beautiful scenery here. Due to the dramatic topography, stairs are present on nearly all hikes, so be prepared for a workout! The shortest hike leads to Starved Rock, overlooking the Illinois River and the dam. Deeper in the park, trails lead to highlights such as Wildcat Canyon and LaSalle Canyon -- each of these canyons has a waterfall. In total, there are 16 different attractions along the trail network, and you can easily create a hike to meet your needs.