Illinois State parks

worth the drive

StarvedRock.IDNR.jpg

STARVED ROCK STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 1 hour 15 minutes

PARK FEATURES | 13 miles of trails combined with 18 canyons and numerous waterfalls make this a photo op in Illinois like no other.

Boating, fishing, and kayaking make this park unique as it resides on the Illinois River. Camping and hunting can be done seasonally as well.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | Downtown Utica has a quaint small town feel with a string-light-lined street. Visit LODI Tap House for lunch or dinner to refuel. Just across the street is August Hill Winery, and the LaSalle County Historical Museum is just up the same street.

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

ILLINOIS BEACH STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 1 hour 20 minutes

PARK FEATURES | Occupying 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, this state park is divided into the northern and southern parts. The northern part has a 1.8 mile hiking trail while the southern part has 5 miles of trails.

There are many water activities to do as you are on the shores of Lake Michigan, like fishing, scuba diving, and swimming. Other activities include bike trails, camping, cross country skiing, and geocaching.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | Six Flags Great America is a short 18 minute drive from Illinois Beach State Park! Gurnee Mills Mall is one of the largest indoor outlet malls in the area and is only 20 minutes away. The historic Shiloh House, home of the town's founder, can also be toured on weekdays.

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

ROCK CUT STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 1 hour

PARK FEATURES | There are 40 miles of trails to hike and explore, 23 miles of mountain biking trails, and 14 miles of equestrian trails.

Because Pierce Lake and Olson Lake are in the park, boating, fishing, and swimming are options, as are bike and mountain bike trails, camping, cross country skiing, dog training, equestrian trails, geocaching, hunting, and metal detecting.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | Discovery Center Museum is a 15 minute drive from Rock Cut and is highly-acclaimed children's museum. Just 20 minutes away, you'll find Lockwood Park, a nearby equestrian center with trail rides and a children's farm.

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

APPLE RIVER CANYON STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 2 hours

PARK FEATURES | There are five total trails that wind through the woods for miles, but it's important to stay on the trails here as there are drop offs.

Camping and hunting can be done seasonally here with permits and fishing can be enjoyed year round.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | 30 minutes directly west is the well-known quaint Downtown Galena. Be sure to eat at Fried Green Tomatoes or try the beer at Galena Brewing Company.

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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MATTHIESSEN STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 1 hour 20 minutes

PARK FEATURES | Just 2 miles away from Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen tends to be the less crowded option but is FILLED with beauty from canyons, dells, waterfalls, streams, and forests filled with 5 miles of hiking trails.

Field archery range, model airplane field, hunting, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, fishing, geocaching, and cross country skiing are other activities to enjoy here,

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | The 1874 Hegeler Carus Mansion is only 15 minutes away from Matthiessen and is filled with rich history of the zinc + publishing industries.

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

JAMES PATE PHILIP STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 15 minutes

PARK FEATURES | 3.7 miles of trails encircle the marshland and water reserve. The Brewster Creek Bridge allows a perfect viewing spot to see waterfowl, turtles, and beavers below.

Bike Trails, cross country skiing, fishing, and hunting can also be enjoyed here.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | Two Toots is a popular lunch spot for the little train lover in your life! Splash Central Indoor Waterpark or Bartlett Aquatic Center together offer year-round pool fun. Leiseberg Park is a great spot to enjoy a FREE splash pad!

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

CASTLE ROCK STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 1 hour 15 minutes

PARK FEATURES | Nestled right on the Rock River, featuring beautiful rock formations, bluffs, and ravines. There are 6 miles of trails to take in the views.

Canoeing and kayaking are popular to get a unique waterfront view of Castle Rock. Other activities include camping, cross country skiing, fishing, geocaching, and metal detecting.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | Because the Rock River is the greatest natural feature, try renting kayaks, canoes, tubes, or paddle boards from White Pelican. 10 minutes north, you will be greeted by Blackhawk, the Eternal Indian, a statue standing 125 feet above the Rock River. For even more ideas on things to do, visit the City of Oregon site!

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

BUFFALO ROCK STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM TRI-CITIES | 1 hour 15 minutes

PARK FEATURES | Buffalo Rock State Park sits on a bluff that was once an island in the Illinois River. Because of its location, the trails allow you to see all kinds of water life including frogs, turtles, catfish, and other fish. There are even two bison here that can be seen daily! 

Bike trails, camping, cross country skiing, geocaching, and hunting are also offered here.

MUST VISIT LOCAL FUN NEARBY | Downtown Ottawa is home to Tangled Roots Brewing (for delicious craft beer) and Dockside Bar & Grill (for riverfront dining). The Reddick Mansion is a pre-Civil War home with unparalleled craftsmanship for a prominent business and statesman.

Photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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