Baby deer and rushing waterfalls, gaping caves and legendary creatures are some of the draws of these Illinois State Parks for families on vacation:
Widely considered Illinois' premiere attraction, Starved Rock supplies limitless recreational opportunities for families. Melting ice in springtime brings waterfalls, when fawns wobble in the meadowlands and a blaze of wildflowers adorn the park's trails. Look out for bald eagles overhead and otters splashing in the canyons' rivers. Climb the ice, cross country ski, canoe or horseback ride through the park. Visit historical attractions listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or take part in the Junior Rangers Program.
Your whole family will be awed by the archaeological treasures on display at Pere Marquette State Park, which was once a meeting place for Native Americans. Hike along twelve miles of trails to burial mounds or ascend McAdam's Peak for panoramic views. Children love to look out for the legendary Piasa bird said to inhabit the park. Its likeness is maintained on the Mississippi Bluffs some twenty miles from the park. Take a family horseback ride, boat and fish, or enjoy a picnic and your freshly grilled catch.
Like a gigantic mouth in the mountain bluffs, Shawnee National Forest's 55 foot wide cave entrance is a delight for children to see. Eroded from the limestone by water, the cave overlooks the sparkling Ohio River which provides excellent fishing and boating opportunities.
Walk as silently as a Native American brave through parkland inhabited over a thousand years ago. Tread softly as you spot raptors and silent deer. Discover secret waterfalls and more at these Illinois State Parks for hikers:
Retrace the footsteps of the Native Americans who lived at Mississippi Palisades a thousand years ago. Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple rivers, this 2,500 acre park is replete with history. Discover its secrets as you explore fifteen miles of hiking trails. The briefest of them ascends to the Oak Point lookout and is accessible for physically impaired nature lovers.
Hike through diverse landscapes like canyons, forest and prairies in Matthiessen State Park. You will come upon geological marvels like sandstone outcrops and canyons, and mineral springs frequented by deer. Hike the sandy bluffs to hickory and oak forests where the scent of honeysuckle floats on the breeze. Hawks and buntings soar over the forests paths in this two thousand acre park.
It is no surprise that Ferne Clyffe is a popular hiking destination. Waterfalls a hundred foot high welcome you to its trail system. Venture through whispering woodland and ascend rocky bluffs where you can visit the 150 ft long Hawks Cave. In the fall the Big Rocky Hollow Trail is especially dramatic.
Plunge into outdoor activities at these dynamic State Parks. Rappel down ledges and dive into the crystalline depths of Lake Michigan. Here are some of Illinois' most thrilling State Parks:
Hewn from Winnebago County stone, this historic park has become a favourite with adventure sport enthusiasts. Hike forty miles of trails, fish for bass, bluegill and sunfish, or hunt deer and turkey. A warren of trails slice through the snowy paradise come winter and cross country skis and snowshoes can be rented at the Camp Store.
Ride on horseback along a twelve mile trail which loops through wild flower lined trails, across burbling streams and between sandstone outcrops in Giant City State Park. The park's Visitor Center offers more insight into the origin of these monoliths, as well as the wildlife inhabiting the park. Rappel down cliffs or go rock climbing. Hunt, fish, or follow scenic hiking and biking trails such as the picturesque Trillium Trail.
Scuba dive in the crystal waters of Lake Michigan, or jog along its seven mile beach. Cycle through the 4,000 acre park, swim, boat or fish at the water or go cross country skiing in the wintertime. Geocaches are secreted throughout the park for you to find.