Top 5 State Parks to Visit in Illinois

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Illinois hosts an impressive amount of state parks that feature the natural beauty of the state. Remarkable views, stunning hiking trails, and interesting historical footprints are only some of the features these parks.

I’ve provided a list of the top 5 state parks in Illinois. Don’t leave them off your travel bucket list!

Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park Hiking Trails

Address: 2668 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL, 61348

Hours: 6:30am – 6:00pm

Rated the number one natural attraction in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is any outdoor-enthusiasts dream come true. With over 2,500 acres of pristine acres, the park is home to a variety of bird, mammal, and plant species. It also contains 18 canyons that were formed from the waters of melting glaciers. Also, the 13 miles of hiking trails allow visitors to experience the natural splendor of the park.

Starved Rock also offers canoeing and kayaking, horseback riding, and ice climbing. So, regardless of the season, there’s always something adventurous to do at this beautiful park. Not to mention, with 2.1 million annual visitors and a 4.7/5 rating, it’s bound to impress.

List of ParksAcres
Starved Rock State Park2500
Giant City State Park4000
Matthiessen State Park2000
Kankakee River State Park4000
Moraine Hills State Park2200

View the Giant City State Park Map

Giant City State Park

Giant City State Park Camping

Address: 235 Giant City Road, Makanda, IL, 62958

Hours: 7:00am – 10pm

Giant City State Park includes over 4,000 acres of natural beauty. It also contains the renowned Giant City Nature Trail IL, which offers stunning views of sandstone formations dating back 12,000 years. If that’s not enough, it also houses a 12-mile equestrian trail for horse enthusiasts. If you enjoy fishing, horseback riding, and rappelling, then this state park is for you.

With 1.5 million annual visitors and a 4.8/5 rating, this park is popular amongst tourists and locals. You can even stay the night—or several nights—at the Giant City Lodge. Once you see the natural wonders of Giant City Park, you’ll never want to leave.

Matthiessen State Park

Address: 2500 IL-178 Oglesby, IL 61348

Hours: 8:00am – 9:00pm

Home to stunning and natural rock formations, Matthiessen State Park is a great place to visit for anyone interested in geology. Some of the features include hiking,
picnicking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and hunting (during regulated seasons). With almost 2,000 acres of beautiful vegetation and wildlife, this park promises all the wonders of the natural world. There’s also a canyon that stretches a mile long.

On June 14, 2019, the park is hosting the Summer Solstice Sunrise Trek. If you enjoy hiking, pristine environments, and the quiet of nature, this is certainly a park to visit.

Kankakee River State Park

Kankakee River State Park Stream

Address: 5314 W. Rt. 102, Bourbonnais, IL 60914

Hours: 6:30am – 8pm

Kankakee River State Park contains 4,000 acres of remarkable fauna, wildlife, and river views. With 200 Class A campsites, Kankakee River Park is a great place for campers to visit. Also, the river is rich in bass and Northern Pike, making it a popular spot for fishers. The park, originally home to the Illini and Miami Native American tribes, offers prehistoric sites with a long historical significance.

With nature programs and guided tours, Kankakee River State Park offers the best of both worlds—education and stunning views.

Moraine Hills State Park

Address: 1510 S River Rd, McHenry, IL 60051

Hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm

Moraine Hills State Park offers 2,200 acres of diverse ecosystems. Home to the Pike Marsh, a rare fen area, the Leatherleaf Bog, and Lake Defiance, this park contains a wide variety of different views and natural experiences. The lake stretches 48 acres and is a rare and undeveloped glacial lake. Visitors can spend their day canoeing on the lake, hiking the 8-mile loop, or watching the 100 different bird species.

If you love diverse nature, geology, and wildlife, then this is a park you cannot miss.

Sources:

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov

https://www.enjoyillinois.com/plan-your-trip/things-to-do/activities/illinois-state-parks-and-national-forest/listing/matthiessen-state-park

https://www.starvedrockstatepark.org

https://www.stateparks.com/moraine_hills_state_park_in_illinois.html

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/parks/pages/giantcity.aspx