Going through Illinois was mainly to get from point A (where we were) to point B (where we were headed), which put us on Interstate 80 going across at the top of the state. Visiting Chicago would have been an obvious choice, but we didn’t chose it. Partly because of the pain and expense of finding RV parking near a large metro area, partly because of our schedule, partly because we prefer less hustle and bustle, and partly because we’d been there before (on a couple of business trips). So I’m saving Chicago for another time.
In looking for more natural activities in Illinois, I found most of them in the southern part of the state. But I did find something interesting right off of 80: Starved Rock State Park. It was about the middle of the state, so we found a camp spot nearby.
We stayed at Pleasant Creek in Oglesby, IL. It was a different type of campground. Plenty of room, but the layout was weird and there weren’t very good pads for RVs. The main problem was the cell reception: There wasn’t any. I was wanting to stay put a bit longer since we just had back-to-back one nighters, but it was fortunate we only committed to two nights, because while we can survive without internet, we really can’t be without phone call reach-ability.
So we had one full day to spend at the park and I was excited to be able to do some hiking again. Coming from the mountainous western states, we have been in flat ground for so long that even rolling hills become exciting. Illinois seemed like nothing but farmland and I couldn’t imagine finding anything tall enough for a waterfall, but these canyons were carved out by ancient glaciers and it was quite a surprise when you get into the park. Pictures just don’t do any of it justice – it was gorgeous!
We drove down to a very large visitor’s center and picked up trail maps. There were many waterfalls and canyons carved out of the rock, and trails both along the Illinois river, and on bluffs above. We had great fun exploring the park.
Starved Rock got its name from an Indian legend about two warring tribes. One tribe escaped death by taking refuge on the great rock only to end up dying of starvation. It’s really a beautiful area and the waterfalls would probably be awesome in the spring.
They say it’s beautiful in the winter as well and you can see icefalls – but I’ll just have to appreciate that from their website pictures.
Most of the trails were accessible from the visitors center, and some we missed completely because we couldn’t figure out their maps. (Tom would disagree with that statement!)
Several trails were supposed to have easier access from different parking lots. We did drive to a trail head that accessed a couple of less crowded and shorter hikes to waterfalls.
It had rained heavily prior to our visit and these trails were muddy messes. I slipped in the mud a couple of times. Thank goodness Tom didn’t get the actual fall video’d, but I imagine it would have been hilarious seeing me try to slip and slid my way to solid ground. And I wasn’t the only one! Tom almost ate it too – but he cheated with a stick!
We had a full day, but didn’t get to all eighteen canyons. It probably would have been a good idea to break up the hiking into two days. Tom and I both had terrible leg cramps that night!
Now we drive into Nappanee, Indiana to free camp at the Newmar MH factory. Stay tuned for our tour.
Peace & Love Joy