Don’t tell me that you’re going to let a little snow and cold get in your way of exploring Illinois. In fact, there are some spots in Illinois that look even better in the winter. Here are nine spots that will blow your mind this winter.
1. Starved Rock State Park
Known for its canyons and waterfalls, Starved Rock State Park looks especially amazing in the winter, particularly when said waterfalls freeze. The park is open this time of year, and you will be quite intrigued by how all of the formations look with a blanket of snow.
2. Lake Michigan
When Lake Michigan finally freezes over, it is a thing of beauty. You can get some really awesome vantage points in Chicago, Evanston, and at Illinois Beach State Park (Zion). It looks especially awesome when chunks of ice are floating around in it.
3. Matthiessen State Park
These rocks have some gorgeous coloring and that is enhanced when contrasted with the white snow. Like its neighboring park, Starved Rock, Matthiessen has some gorgeous rock formations. The main canyon consists of the lower and upper dells, and you might even see some water seeping out along the sandstone walls.
4. Apple River Canyon
This park, right up to the Wisconsin border, has some breathtaking features like limestone bluffs and deep ravines. There are plenty of hiking trails and, depending on precipitation, you might see some waterfalls.
5. Colored Sands Forest Preserve
This 30 acre preserve is located in Winnebago County, and in it, you will find all sorts of threatened plant and animal species. There isn't a lot of hiking involved, but you can walk and see the Sugar River and nature preserve.
6. Little Black Slough Nature Preserve
You might not know that there are giant cypress trees hanging out in southern Illinois. These cypress are some of the most amazing things to see in our state. But you can really appreciate just how massive they are when the ground has frozen over like this! Many of the buttresses exceed 40 feet in circumference! And some are up to 1,000 years old.
7. Mississippi Palisades State Park
With a fresh blanket of snow, the Mississippi is truly incredible to see. These large bluffs once were housing to peoples as they braved the elements. There are plenty of rugged trails to explore here - up to 15 miles if you are up for it.
8. Rock River
The Rock River is actually a tributary of the Mississippi, but it is a fine river in its own right, too. It stretches 300 miles from Wisconsin to Illinois. There are plenty of opportunities to hike beside it and observe its beauty.
9. Giant City State Park
This 4,000 acre park will blow you away this winter. The 12,000 year old sandstone bluffs look absolutely stunning when ice is dripping down their sides like this.
These are some great places to explore this winter, and yet, there are just so many more. What are some of your favorite Illinois attractions to explore in the winter? And if you head out to any of these spots, don’t forget to post a pic on the Only in Illinois Facebook page!