Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is near Utica and Oglesby, Illinois. It is also near Starved Rock State Park. 

Frederick Williams Matthiessen developed the park for his personal use and after his death it was donated to the state of Illinois. It has since grown significantly in size. 

There are two main areas that make up Matthiessen State Park: the Dells Area and the Vermillion River Area. 

I chose to check out the Upper Dell in the Dells Area. It is really pretty. I especially liked the stepping “stones” across the section called Giant’s Bathtub. 

I ended up hiking a little under a mile. I forgot that unlike Indiana, Illinois kids had yet to start school. The park was packed and noisy. I will plan better next time so it will be a more peaceful adventure. 

Sinks Canyon State Park, WY

Sinks Canyon State Park is near Lander Wyoming in the Wind River Mountains. The middle fork of the Popo Agie River seems to disappear into the mountain at “The Sink” and reemerges at “The Rise” a quarter mile down the canyon. 

It takes the water 2 hours to move from The Sink to the calm pool at The Rise. It is unknown why it takes so long or why more water comes out at The Rise than goes into The Sinks. 

I parked at The Rise parking lot and walked to the observation platform above The Rise and watched the huge fish. They are Brown, Rainbrow, and Brook Trout. Visitors can buy fish food and feed them. I think they get fed a lot. 

The Rise

I then continued up the mountain .25 miles on the Sinks to Rise Trail along the Overflow. From late May to June, the snowmelt doubles the size of the Popo Agie River and the river flows both into the sinks and thru the Overflow. 

Overflow Loop Trail

Sinks Cavern

Still on the Bucket List:

  • Drive “The Loop Road” – 70 mile scenic drive beginning and ending in Lander
    • Learn more about The Loop Road here

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

We lived in Las Vegas, Nevada while I went to high school and my favorite place was Red Rock – the National Conservation Area not the casino. Remember, I was 13-17 when we lived there, you’re not exactly allowed in casinos at that age. We lived about 20 minutes from Red Rock and would go hiking there on the weekend. I went back over Thanksgiving (2016) to visit family and while I was there I made sure to stop at Red Rock.

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The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes

Wanderlust will hit you hard while reading / browsing Backpacker’s The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes by Ted Alvarez. It is full of breath-taking hikes from the iconic Half Dome and Narrows to more extensive week long backpacking tours of the National Parks. There’s inspiring photographs, insight from Park Rangers, and helpful advice for avoiding heat stroke, blisters, bears, and more.

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams is a fascinating read. I knew that going hiking regularly helps me feel better, but I didn’t know that nature is scientifically proven to help use emotionally and cognitively.

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