Starved Rock State Park

This weekend, we also trekked out to Starved Rock State Park near Ottawa, IL. It’s about a 1 hour and forty minute drive from Chicago. It was wonderful.

In my late 20s, I discovered that I really like hiking. As a city girl, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to hike when I was younger. And honestly, I didn’t have the inclination. But one fateful hike in Wisconsin taught me that hiking can be extraordinary. I’ve probably hiked only a few times a year, usually in Wisconsin. Last year, we did check out Kankakee River State Park, which was awesome. (Also, I went horseback riding for the first time there!)

Starved Rock was fantastic. We first drove to the Visitor Center to get our bearings. We had decided what hike we wanted to do but we a bit confused how to get there. The people at the Visitor Center were really helpful. They told us how long various hikes would take and also recommended that we go up to Starved Rock itself. Also, they lent us a pair of binoculars (with a loan of my driver’s license) so we could try to see a bald eagle’s nest. So cool.

So we raced up to Starved Rock, which was really easy with wooden stairs. When we got to the top, there was a magnificent view of the Illinois River. We could see giant birds hanging out in the water including birds that looked like pelicans. There was a tiny island covered with green foliage. Trees of all different hues of green spread out for miles. Sadly, the eagle’s nest was covered by foliage but that’s okay. I did confirm that I must have seen a bald eagle on our drive in!

View from Starved Rock, Starved Rock State Park
View from Starved Rock, Starved Rock State Park

Then we went to LaSalle Canyon and Tonti Canyon. According to the website, Tonti Canyon was the best for photography. However, due to a hike closure, the only way to get to Tonti was through LaSalle Canyon. We drove to the right parking lot and wandered down Owl Canyon to get to LaSalle. As someone who is new to this, I still find it amusing that there is inevitably a hike to get to the hike. After negotiating stairs, we walked parallel to the river.

Then we found ourselves hugging the side of the river next to these impressive rock formations. I kept expecting to cross to the other side of the creek but then LaSalle came before us. It’s quite pretty. It’s a fairly open space with a large waterfall that feeds into a tiny one falls into the creek  into the Illinois River. To get to the other side of the creek, you actually have to walk behind the waterfall or walk over the little stream it made. It was extremely exciting to walk behind the waterfall. Again this was a first for me.

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park
LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park

Then we continued our path to get to Tonti Canyon. The description also said that it could even have two waterfalls if it had rained. Well, I was hoping that the rains from the following week were sufficient. It was a bit of slippery and muddy hike to the canyon so I’d recommend some good hiking boots. Also, we had to negotiate over creeks, which was another new one for me. It was fun to test my tight wire skills.

And then we saw Tonti Canyon. And yes, there were two waterfalls. It was pretty amazing. Swallows were darting here and there. I think they lived in holes of the canyon. There was the pale pinkish brown canyon walls, the green pools of water, and then these several story waterfalls gushing water through the air. Since we search for circus in all moments, we decided to use our tight wire skills on some semi-submerged logs to get behind one of the waterfalls. There was no other way to get there without swimming or wading. We did well without falling in the water. The only trick was that the log was completely submerged in the last few yards. But my wet feet were not a result of circus. I just tried to wade through the water in the past few yards. Totally worth it. There was incredible triumph standing under the one waterfall.

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park
Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park

Anyway, it was a great time. I can’t wait to go back to Starved Rock and try another hike.

That’s all for now!

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