Starved Rock State Park was voted the #1 attraction in the state of Illinois and you can definitely tell why once you’ve been there. I love how all of the hiking trails in the park are connected to each other so you can pick a starting point and hike as much or as little as you want. Plus, Illinois State Parks don’t have an entrance fee.
Added bonus: the Starved Rock Lodge Dining Room has a great Strawberry Pecan Salad! This salad has set the standard for salads ever since I had it two years ago – and the fact that I rave about a salad says A LOT as salads are normally considered rabbit food in my book.
18 canyons make up Starved Rock State Park’s unique geography. Waterfalls can be found in 14 of the canyons during the spring when the snow is melting or after a heavy rainfall.
The first time I visited Starved Rock State Park was in October of 2015 with Lizzie. We car camped at the Starved Rock Campground for a night. It was my first ever camping experience and it was pretty entertaining. It started with borrowing Lizzie’s dad’s camping gear and driving 4 hours with it in the backseat of Roxy (my silver 4Runner that I had at the time) not knowing there was a hatchet in with the gear. The entertainment continued with Lizzie wielding said hatchet to chop wood – I’m happy to report we both escaped with all our fingers and toes. And I learned to be particular about how the car is parked for car camping – Roxy was parked at a slant which led to Lizzie sliding and invading my space in the middle of the night.
But seriously, it was a great adventure and we had fun exploring some of the trails Starved Rock has to offer. We also managed to time the trip for peak leaf colors. We missed out on seeing the waterfalls, but the canyons are still really pretty whether there’s water in them or not.
This year (2017) Jess and I set out to conquer the Starved Rock State Park Mega Hike. It involves hiking all 18 canyons for a total of almost 13 miles with two guides from the Starved Rock Walkers Club leading the way. It costs $37 per person to do the Mega Hike and includes lunch and a t-shirt. The Mega Hike takes place once a season. Jess and I decided we wanted to do the Spring Mega Hike in April because we wanted to see the waterfalls.
We are members of the hiking organization, Women Who Hike. Once we decided we were going to do the Mega Hike, Jess let other members know about it through the Women Who Hike – Midwest Facebook page and a number of members joined us. It was really cool meeting the other women and getting to know them while hiking Starved Rock.
Jess and I got to try out our rain gear as there was a steady rain most of the day. Our hike was cut short by about three miles due to concerns about lightening.
Even with the rain the Mega Hike was great fun. I’m looking forward to finishing those last three miles the next time I visit Starved Rock State Park. It would be cool to go in the winter and see the frozen waterfalls.