Starved Rock Nation is dwelling to 2 of Illinois’ premier state parks: Starved Rock and Matthiessen. Each locations obtain prime billing for his or her bluffs, canyons, waterfalls and spectacular surroundings. Nevertheless, the area encompasses three extra noteworthy state parks in addition to a number of state wildlife areas and pure areas. Enterprise out to one thing new this fall!


Buffalo Rock State Park

1300 N. twenty seventh Highway, Ottawa


There’s a lot to see at Buffalo Rock. The star attraction is a trio of bison — Pebbles, Cocoa and Hope, who reside in an enclosure a brief stroll away from the car parking zone. The park is located on the north financial institution of the Illinois River about 4 miles from downtown Ottawa and is a neighbor to Starved Rock State Park. Hikers can observe a path alongside the park’s bluffs to succeed in overlooks that supply views of the river and its islands. Buffalo Rock additionally claims one of many area’s most unusual points of interest: the Effigy Tumuli, a collection of earth sculptures common after Indigenous nations’ effigies and burial mounds. The effigies embody a 2,070-foot-long snake, 140-foot frog, 770-foot catfish, a water strider and a turtle.

Gebhard Woods State Park

401 Ottawa St., Morris


This 30-acre inexperienced house is nestled inside Morris metropolis limits and fewer than a five-minute drive from downtown. The Illinois & Michigan Canal Path borders the southern size of the park, and hikers might be as formidable as they want in strolling the 61.5-mile path that stretches from La Salle to Rockdale. The park is also dwelling to campgrounds with grills, hearth pits and picnic tables. Fishing fanatics can go to one in every of Gebhard Woods’ three ponds. Mid-October is a first-rate time to go to as a result of the park’s many maple timber burst into vibrant hues of pink and orange.

Illini State Park

2660 E. 2350th Highway, Marseilles


Illini State Park hugs the south financial institution of the Illinois River, with a view of town of Marseilles on the other financial institution. The principally wooded, 510-acre park options campgrounds, a ship ramp, a loop path and a number of picnic areas, together with two shelters with fireplaces. The shoreline park is a first-rate spot to sit back and watch the river, together with frequent barge site visitors.


Most of the wooded and/or marshy state fish and wildlife areas are rugged and used primarily by hunters throughout designated recreation seasons, however a number of provide extra leisure actions for informal weekend visits and day journeys. Remember that almost all shut in mid- to late-fall for looking seasons. Look ahead to posted website closures.

Heidecke Lake

5010 N. Jugtown Highway, Morris


Initially constructed as a cooling lake for the shuttered Collins Nuclear Producing Station, Heidecke Lake is a first-rate location to fish for award-winning bass, amongst a number of different fish species. Anglers can attempt their luck on the lake from 6 a.m. to sundown each day. Boats are allowed for fishing and waterfowl looking, however different types of water recreation (swimming, wading or snowboarding) are prohibited. Fishing closes shortly earlier than waterfowl season, at which level the placement is open for waterfowl looking. For looking and fishing data, go to www.bit.ly/HeideckeLake.

La Salle Lake

2651 N. twenty first Highway, Marseilles


La Salle Lake is a artifical physique of water adjoining to Exelon’s La Salle County Nuclear Producing Station. The two,058-acre lake, which serves as a cooling pond to the station’s two nuclear reactors, is open to the general public for fishing from 6 a.m. to sundown by Oct. 15. The lake is open for boat fishing, however all different types of water recreation are prohibited. Shore anglers can also arrange their poles alongside the rock riprap and benefit from the water’s view from one of many website’s a number of picnic tables. A fishing pier at Ivy Level is accessible to folks with disabilities.

Mazonia-Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Space

Route 53 and Huston Highway, Braceville


Mazonia’s South Unit is a must-visit location for fossil hunters of any expertise degree. Guests can receive a day allow for fossil assortment by Sept. 30 on the park workplace, then discover the realm for 300 million-year-old Pennsylvanian-age fossils. Animal and plant fossils — together with jellyfish, shrimp and ferns, amongst others — are preserved in nodules that you could gather and break open. Mazon Creek is also the place the unusual Tully Monster fossil was found. After fossil-hunting season ends, the location continues to be price a go to for climbing or fishing. Mazonia’s north and south models characteristic a collection of slim lakes the place anglers can forged their traces. Subsequent door to the Mazonia advanced is Braidwood Lake, the cooling pond for Exelon’s Dresden Producing Station, which is also open for fishing.


Goose Lake Prairie State Pure Space

5010 N. Jugtown Highway, Morris (adjoining to Heidecke Lake)


Goose Lake Prairie is a window into Illinois’ previous. Seven miles of grassy or packed gravel climbing trails wind by preserved tall-grass prairie and marsh that’s dwelling to an enormous array of flora. The prairie nonetheless bursts with blooms in late summer season and autumn. “Autumn is a beautiful time on the prairie — some say it’s the prettiest season of the 12 months,” the Illinois Division of Pure Assets says of Goose Lake Prairie on its web site. New England aster and goldenrod bloom in September, and the prairie grasses flip shades of bronze and gold within the fall. Informational indicators in regards to the prairie can be found at intervals alongside trails. Hikers even have an opportunity to come across a wide range of wildlife, together with crayfish, turtles, snakes, frogs, deer, coyote, foxes, rabbits, beavers, muskrats, badgers, dozens of chicken species and extra. Along with nature, the family-friendly vacation spot includes a reconstructed 1830s pioneer cabin, a metallic windmill, a duplicate pioneer wagon, a prairie statement deck and a butterfly barn.