Like to hike, climb, bike, and get out on the water? You might think you need to hop into your car and take a road trip across the country. Well, guess what? You can hop in your car without having to cross state lines. These 10 incredible Illinois locations will bring out the explorer in you.
1. Garden of the Gods
Can we say much more than "OMG, those are some huge rocks?" You just have to see it to believe it. Located in Herod, in the Shawnee National Forest, the Garden of the Gods will give you such a taste for adventure. There are hiking trails for a variety of fitness/intensity levels.
2. Starved Rock
Where else in Illinois can you find such diverse geologic formations? There are canyons, waterfalls, cliffs, bluffs, rivers...and so much more. Make it as easy or challenging as you want, with options to climb up or down to see various features.
3. Tunnel Hill State Trail
If you like riding a bike, you are going to LOVE Tunnel Hill State Trail. It stretches for 45 miles from Harrisburg to Kamak. It was once a railroad route, now turned into a bike path. The scenery is incredible, with everything from wildflowers to a swamp with giant cypress trees in it.
4. Mississippi Palisades State Park
See the Mississippi like you have never seen it before. In Savanna, this park offers hiking, boating, and rock climbing. During winter months, there is sledding and ice fishing. You can't go wrong exploring this park no matter what season it is!
5. Cave in Rock
All other caves should have to bow to this cave. Now that's a cave. The entrance of this cave is a whopping 55 feet tall. It was once a den for pirates and all other sorts of bad guys. Today, it is in a sleepy town of 300 just off of the Ohio River.
6. Ferne Clyffe State Park
In Goreville, Ferne Clyffe State Park has, you guessed it, interesting ferns, but it also really unique geological features. Just look at this rock in the picture. You will have to plenty to hike and explore in this 2,430 acre park.
7. Giant City State Park
In Makanda, Giant City State Park is a very popular attraction. People love "Giant City Street," a trail through these giant bluffs of sandstone. Formed over 12,000 years ago, you will be blown away by just how massive they are.
8. Lake Le-Aqua-Na
This 40 acre lake located in Lena offers all sorts of opportunities for people who love the water and those who prefer to observe it from afar. You can get out and fish, even ice fish during the winter months. On the trails, you can hike or cross-country ski.
9. Matthiessen State Park
Located in North Utica, Matthiessen State Park has tons of diverse natural features like prairies, forest, canyons and streams. You will be delighted by the five miles of trails. If you are super adventurous, consider going horseback riding!
10. Rock Cut State Park
In Loves Park, Rock Cut State Park covers over 3000 acres. There are two lakes, hiking trails, a beach, and the ability to go horseback riding.
These are some super great places, but they don’t even come close to covering all the amazing places to explore in Illinois. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore something.