Growing up in Illinois, you always complain that the state is flat and all looks the same. That might be the case for a lot of the state, but there are plenty of spots that make you feel like you are definitely NOT in Illinois. There are even some spots that make you feel like you aren’t on Earth! Here are nine spots in Illinois that are simply otherworldly.
1. Garden of the Gods
These giant rocks are some 300 million years old. Walking among them, you will feel like an ant. This will make you feel like you are walking in a universe of giants.
2. Cave in Rock
This large cave has an opening of 55 feet. Pirates and bootleggers have called it home. It almost seems like it could be home to some aliens or something.
3. Cache River Natural Area
Bald cypress trees jut out of swamps in southern Illinois. One of the swamp's inhabitants is a sea snake (creepy!). The trees are large; some of them are 1000 years old and some having a circumference of 20 feet around.
4. Starved Rock State Park
The prevalence of waterfalls and canyons make this unlike other spots in Illinois. The way that some trees seem to grow sideways out of the cliffs will make it seem like you are on another planet.
5. Cahokia Mounds
These mounds were once the home of an ancient Native American civilization over a thousand years ago. The mounds that they had built remain, and they have a surreal sort of quality to them.
6. La Rue Pine Hills Bluffs (Shawnee National Forest)
When we say this is one of the most different spots in the world, we aren't kidding. Erosion over millions of years created these 150 foot tall bluffs that are simply imposing. It also contains great biodiversity, including wetland, forest, prairie, glade and barren ecosystems.
7. Ferne Clyffe State Park
All sorts of unusual ferns and other flora make this place seem magical. The bright greens scattered among the interesting rocks provides tons of visual interest. You will really find these woods to be among the most picturesque in the state.
8. Giant City State Park
Giant City State Park offers some of the most unusual rock formations, like the one pictured here. It is almost like some giant carved the rocks. In fact, these massive sandstone structures were formed some 12,000 years ago.
9. Mississippi Palisades State Park
The lushness that the Mississippi provides is phenomenal. The profound, deep greens are like nothing you've seen. Native people once lived on the tall cliffs overlooking the river.