So many sites in Illinois we just drive by and don’t think about, even though they are truly beautiful. So we’re going to slow down a little bit and take a look at these awesome sites in Illinois. Hey, and go visit them! They look even better in person.
1. Garden of the Gods (Herod)
There may not be a more dramatic view in Illinois. These boulders were formed roughly 320 million years ago. The hilly rock formations will impress anyone. Sunsets are stunning here.
2. Cache River Natural Area (Belknap)
This place will stun you the most in person. Wow. These trees are HUGE--some of them even around 40 feet in circumference. They jut out of the green waters of southern Illinois. Some of them are over 1,000 years old.
3. Starved Rock State Park (Oglesby)
You won't believe the 18 canyons throughout the park, particularly if a waterfall is gushing down. The canyons look stunning from above, too. You can take all in on the 13 miles of trails winding throughout the park.
4. Mississippi Palisades State Park (Savanna)
This state park is nestled right among the Mississippi and Apple Rivers. There are steep cliffs all along the rivers, providing dramatic views. If you are a hiker, there are 15 rugged trails to walk along. Additionally, there are plenty of places to camp for the night.
5. Matthiessen State Park (North Utica)
This park is not just a forest with nice trails. You will love this park, for its canyons, bluffs, and prairies. Even more stunning are the dells, of which there are upper and lower.
6. Pere Marquette State Park (Grafton)
This park is located at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Climb up bluffs to get some stunning views. This park looks best in the fall, and besides hiking it, you can take it all in during a scenic drive. There is a nice lodge here you can stay at, too.
7. Illinois Beach State Park (Zion)
There aren't many beaches in Illinois, so this one is extra special. Enjoy 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Other than walking along the beach (which is totally awesome), you can fish, camp, and ride your bike.
8. Castle Rock State Park (Oregon)
This park can be enjoyed on foot, but we recommend kayaking around it so you can take in the gorgeous rock features. Take in stunning views of the Rock River.
9. Horseshoe Lake (Granite City)
This is a fantastic lake, named as such because it looks like a horseshoe. It's pretty shallow, and it's definitely for the birds. No, really - there actually are about 280 species of birds that hang out in this park.
10. Rock Cut State Park (Loves Park)
This is a gorgeous place to take in the water, either by hiking or on a boat. There are also plenty of places for you to camp for the night. There are plenty of other activities to do, too, such as fishing and sand volleyball.
11. Silver Springs State Park (Yorkville)
This park is named for a natural spring running through it. There are also two artificial lakes, and the Fox River runs through it as well. There are lots of natural prairies around here. You can even ride a horse through here.
12. Shabbona Lake State Park (Shabbona)
This 1550 acre park is known for the lake, which has been home to some of the biggest Muskies caught in Illinois. There is plenty to do in the way of hiking and kayaking, if fishing isn't your thing. There are gorgeous flowers with native grasses.
13. Lowden State Park (Oregon)
This 207 acre park is just along the Rock River, and wow, is it gorgeous. There are four miles of foot trails to take it all in. While the natural beauty is stunning, people come to see the statue of a Native American. It is 100 tons and is the second-largest monolithic statue in the world.