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can i see the park in one day?

Elgin Illinois
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153 posts
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can i see the park in one day?

My wife and i are in chicago and want to see the park and do some short hikes eat lunch and drive home. is this possible to do in just one day or do we need an overnight? please help

Midwest City...
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1. Re: can i see the park in one day?

Which park are you referring to?

Illinois
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2. Re: can i see the park in one day?

One day is enough time to see Starved Rock. How much hiking would you like to do? A good plan might be to park at the Visitor Center, then hike to St. Louls Canyon, which is a 1.5 mile hike (3 miles roundtrip). St. Louis Canyon is at the far western side of the park. You could return to the Visitor Center and eat at the snack shop there, at the Lodge, or bring your own picnic lunch. (We stopped at Jimmy John’s by I-80 and got sandwiches before hand the last time we visited.) After lunch, you could go to the canyons east of the Visitor Center. The canyon at the far east side of the park is Illinois Canyon; it’s nearly 5 miles from the visitor center, so almost 10 miles round trip if you want to walk that much – I wouldn’t! There is a lot to see if you walk east to Wildcat Canyon, and that’s only 1 mile from the Visitor Center.

The three canyons at the far eastern edge of Starved Rock are Illinois, Kaskaskia, and Ottawa. There are parking areas very close to each, so it’s just a short hike back to see them. Really pretty and not much walking!

A lot of the time, we will park at Parkman’s Plain, hike to the Lodge for lunch, and then return on a different trail to our car (there are several loops). This is about 5 miles round trip.

Look at the trail map and plan a route before you go:

http://www.starvedrockstatepark.org/

We were there last week. The trails were very icy, but the frozen waterfalls were spectacular! We saw two eagles and several deer too.

Elgin Illinois
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3. Re: can i see the park in one day?

thanks for the help !!! our plan was to drive to the starved rock park from i-80 stop in at the visitor center. than do some of the short hikes (nothing strenuous) than plan to have lunch somewhere. maybe do another hike and start home. we were interested in the frozen waterfalls and seeing an eagle. where did you see yours? is there a spot we should look for? We have never been here before so this is our first trip. planing on going this friday if the weather is ok. also will it be crowded?

Illinois
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4. Re: can i see the park in one day?

It’s supposed to be bitter cold and blustery this Friday – I don’t handle the cold very well so I wouldn’t be outside hiking unless it was absolutely necessary! When we were there last week, the boardwalks and steps were very icy – be careful! We saw several people wearing ice grips over their shoes. Starved Rock shouldn’t be too crowded on a weekday.

The eagles congregate in trees on an island in the Illinois River. You can get a good view of them from the actual Starved Rock, which is less than a half-mile from the Visitor Center. Make sure to bring binoculars. You can also see them from the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, which is across the river from Starved Rock. In previous years we had seen more, but only two on our recent visit.

For a short hike, I would recommend visiting St. Louis Canyon – the frozen waterfall is spectacular. I should have mentioned in my previous post that you can park in a lot off Route 178, and then hike about a half-mile to this waterfall. The road to this parking lot is less than a half mile south of the entrance to the park, on the east side of Route 178. If you park at the Visitor Center, it is a 1.5-mile hike back to St. Louis (3 miles round trip), but you will also see Aurora, Sac, and Kickapoo Canyons. I’d also recommend the canyons on the far east side of the park since the parking areas are close. When you visit, you may want to get off I-80 at Utica, then drive east along Route 71 through Ottawa when you go home, and pick up I-80 there.

Starved Rock changes with the seasons. The winter has the quiet snowy paths, eagle viewing, and frozen waterfalls. The spring has wildflowers and flowing waterfalls. The summer has warm temperatures meeting the coolness of the canyons. The fall has a great display of changing leaves. If you go when the weather is warmer, it’s nice to sit on the patio behind the lodge, where they serve drinks and sandwiches.

Illinois
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5. Re: can i see the park in one day?

We are not fans of the food at the lodge. There are many excellent places to eat in/near town. Duffy's: best bet for lunch, has the best corned beef/Reuben sandwiches I've ever had. Ron's Cajun Connection has outstanding cajun food - it is an itty bitty place with huge character, probably better for dinner. Anne's Hideaway is a fantastic local place a few miles away in the very small town of Naplate - best Prime Rib for very reasonable cost, also a better bet for dinner.

We do love to go in the summer. The lodge has live entertainment on their veranda on the weekends. You can see as much of the State Park as you want in one day. We've been many, many times - there are many miles of trails, and we never tire of going there.

Frozen waterfalls??? Winter road trip for us!

Illinois
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6. Re: can i see the park in one day?

Funcampin, I'm going to check out your restaurant recommendations the next time we visit Starved Rock. We drive through Naplate sometimes and I am always puzzled. Does this small town have a disproportionately large number of taverns for such a small town?!

Illinois
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7. Re: can i see the park in one day?

haha Illinitrav,

Naplate only has 400 people!

Don't ALL small towns have a disproportionate amount of taverns?

8 bars, 4 gas stations, 1 diner, 1 church......LOL

Edited: 7:54 pm, January 29, 2010
Elgin Illinois
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153 posts
200 reviews
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8. Re: can i see the park in one day?

well thanks for all your good advise! We got back home from a visit today. saw 2 eagles in a tree from the starved rock staircase. was a real treat.also took the hike to french canyon and st louis canyon. had lunch at the lodge was ok . a little cold today but we had nice sunshine all day and made for some great pictures.............

Illinois
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9. Re: can i see the park in one day?

Glad you had a nice time. You inspired us. We are going today. It doesn't look like it will be sunny today - hope we get some good pictures anyway.

Elgin Illinois
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153 posts
200 reviews
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10. Re: can i see the park in one day?

funcampin. how was your day?? were the eagles still out .