When the weather warms up in Illinois, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the scenery. Illinois’ system of state parks, which includes nature preserves, wildlife areas, and woods attracts up to 44 million people every year, and provides for a fantastic excursion in any part of the state. Hiking, riding, and simply taking in the beauty are all options among the lush vegetation, waterfalls, and other natural attractions.
Here are some of the greatest hidden treasures to visit in Illinois state parks.
5 State Parks To Visit In Illinois
Kankakee River State Park
This park has a lot of history, which will keep you interested during your visit. In the 1600s and 1700s, Kankakee River State Park was home to numerous significant Native American tribes. The largest settlement was “Rock Village” or “Little Rock Village,” which was located within the current park near the mouth of Rock Creek. The last big Indian Council was held there in 1830.
This park offers plenty of opportunities for fishermen and hunters to enjoy and survive. Wetlands cover over half of Kankakee River State Park’s 4000 acres, including eleven miles of riverfront on both sides. Smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, and channel catfish can all be found along this Federal Clean Streams designated river. For fishermen, there are two boat ramps, however the water might be shallow.
Routes for hiking, biking trails, and cross-country skiing, as well as horse and snowmobile trails, are available throughout the year.
The Kankakee River State Park has more than 200 campsites, including camping without running water. Electricity and showers are restricted in 98 of the locations; however, the other section of the park has 110 sites with complete power and amenities. The park also has picnic and state recreation areas, shelters, and two rental cabins.
Pere Marquette State Park
For anyone interested in Native American history and ecology, this is an excellent state park to explore. Pere Marquette State Park is home to 8,000 acres of natural beauty, including breathtaking vistas of the Illinois River from its cliffs.
Following the glacial period, a complex network of streams and rivers evolved in the region, resulting in rich topsoil that suited itself to a deciduous forest. Six Native American tribes have lived within this bountiful landscape over the ages, and many burial mounds have been discovered inside Pere Marquette State Park.
Horseback riding, fishing, hiking, hunting, boating, and camping are among the year-round leisure activities available. On the grounds, there are 80 campsites with electricity hookups, as well as a sanitary dump station, drinking water, and a shower house.
A cocktail lounge, gift store, indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, saunas, gaming room, and tennis court are among the lodge’s amenities.
Illinois Beach State Park
The lovely Illinois Beach State Park spans along Lake Michigan’s shore. You may enjoy the white beach and clean water, as well as the tranquil lake views. The park spans 4,160 acres and includes 6.5 kilometers of shoreline.
Hiking, fishing, and swimming in the magnificent Lake Michigan are just a few of the activities available at Illinois Beach State Park. You can also go cross-country skiing in the surrounding park area in the winter! You may also go boating here; if you need a larger boat, the North Point Marina is the place to go. Smaller paddle boats and kayaks can also be used to explore Lake Michigan’s waters.
Starved Rock State Park
Eighteen canyons of sandstone bluffs were produced by prehistoric glacial meltwater at Starved Rock State Park. The canyons’ vertical walls provide spectacular views of waterfalls and natural springs, which are bordered by a rich forest of cedar, oak, hickory, and pine trees. As groundwater seeps through the sandstone, waterfalls may be observed at the heads of all 18 canyons in the spring.
Starved Rock State Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife and plants, which may be seen along the park’s thirteen miles of trails. Bald Eagles, migrating from Canada and the Great Lakes for the unfrozen waters of Starved Rock’s Lock and Dam, are a big draw throughout the winter months. Also many types of wildflowers and plants bloom and sprout during the spring and summer months. Along with Indigo Buntings, Vireos, and Yellowbellied Sapsuckers, flying squirrels can be seen swooping from tree to tree.
Many guided tours and walks are available at this state park, including full moon hikes, dawn hikes, and ghost trail hikes. In addition to hiking trails, the park offers several fishing, boating, hunting, and camping activities.
Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee National Forest, located in the state’s southern part, is a wide swath of forests, lakes, and dramatic landscapes that has been maintained by the US Forest Service since August of 1993.
While this makes it a National Forest rather than a State Park, it’s still a terrific site worth visiting if you appreciate animals, adventure, and the finest of the Illinois wilderness.
Hiking through the park’s numerous varied paths, rock climbing, horseback riding, and boating throughout the region are all options for tourists. The Mississippi and Ohio rivers run through the forest, and there are many other streams to discover.
Those looking to inject some excitement into their walks should head to the Jackson Falls portion of the park. You may do rock climbing and rappelling here and even amateurs will be able to put their talents to the test with a variety of locations of varying difficulty.
Throughout the park, there are various camping areas where you may spend the night. If that’s not your thing, you may stay at one of the nearby inexpensive hotels.
Whichever of these gorgeous Illinois State Parks you visit, you’ll have a better knowledge and appreciation of the state’s natural splendor. You can even visit a few of the parks in one day but the experience is much better if you take at least a day at each park. That way you can explore more and take in more of the natural beauty of these parks.