It’s summer, which means it’s time to dust off those hiking shoes and have an adventure. There are some truly phenomenal spots in Illinois to check out. We
profiled some of them last year. We have re-profiled some of our favorites, and added many more to the list.
1. Mississippi Palisades State Park (Savanna)
This 2500 acre state park is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple Rivers. Palisades refers to the name given to cliffs located along rivers. As you can see, the lushness makes these palisades totally stunning. There is a lot of Native American history here left over from the people who once lived here.
2. Inspiration Point (Wolf Lake)
The trail is just 8/10 of a mile, but the view is definitely worth it. It is at the center of LaRue Pine Hills. You are 150 feet above the ground and have a panoramic view.
3. Rock Cut State Park (Loves Park)
Besides interesting rock formations, this state park has two lakes: Pierce and Olson. There are many trails for you to explore, including by cross-country skiing, horseback and plain old hiking. There is all sorts of wildlife here, too, from muskrats to woodchucks.
4. Illinois Beach State Park (Zion)
Beaches are pretty rare in Illinois, so you have to appreciate that this state park offers 6.5 miles of sandy shoreline.
5. Starved Rock State Park (Utica)
From caves to canyons, from waterfalls to gorgeous river views, this park has something for everyone. Trees look like they are growing out of the sides of earth and you will be overwhelmed by the interesting rock formations. It's no wonder this is the most visited state park in Illinois.
6. Cave in Rock (Cave in Rock)
This giant cave with a 55 foot mouth is located off of the Ohio River. Once used by bandits as a hide out, it is now in a pretty sleepy, small town.
7. Garden of the Gods (Herod)
Is there a better place to catch a sunset in all of Illinois? White rocks formed over 300 million years ago reflect light and make for a picturesque setting.
8. Sagawau Canyon (Lemont)
Who knew that a Chicago suburb would have canyons and cliffs? The cliffs provide a home for some of the most unusual plant life in all of Illinois, including purple cliff brake and bulbet fern.
9. Ferne Clyffe State Park (Goreville)
This scenic spot is known for, you guessed it, strange ferns and other flora. You will have a ball walking through these stunning woods, full of bizarre rock formations and vistas.
10. White Pines Forest State Park (Mt. Morris)
This state park is located in the heart of the Rock River Valley. It is quite large at 385 acres, with loads of spots for camping and having a picnic.
11. Cache River Natural Area (Belknap)
You will think you are somewhere in the deep south when you enter this area. Green bogs with snakes make this unlike anything you've ever seen before. The giant trees growing here are up to 1,000 years old, and huge at 40 feet in circumference.