Ferne Clyffe State Park

Ferne Clyffe Falls is said to be the most visited waterfall in Illinois, and for good reason; you can actually walk behind this waterfall! This 2400 acre park has incredible geological features that people have taken notice of for at least the past 100 years.  To visit Ferne Clyffe State Park, drive south on IL-37 from Downtown Goreville. In just 2 minutes, you will arrive at the entrance to the park. For more information, click here.

Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is located just 2.5 miles south of the famous Starved Rock!  Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology, as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. The main hiking trails are separated into two sections by a 45 foot drop from  the upper dells to the lower dells.  The trails navigate you through the limestone canyon, and feature stunning sites, including a cave, towering bluffs, and several waterfalls. Come visit Matthiessen State Park and find out why it’s considered one of Illinois’s best kept secrets! Matthiessen State Park is an Illinois state park located a few miles south of the more famous Starved Rock State Park. The main entrances to both parks are located on Illinois State Route 178, the entrance is located at 2500 IL-178, Oglesby, IL 61348 For more information, click here.

Jackson Falls Recreation Area

Jackson Falls is one of the best waterfalls in all of Illinois.  During the 5 mile hike to get to the base of the falls, you can also see two other waterfalls, along a beautiful canyon. During the summer months, Jackson Falls is one of the most popular swimming holes in the state.  But what’s even more stunning is the rocks that surround this area. There are numerous sandstone bluffs and freestanding boulders. The area is also a popular place for rock climbing.  In fact, there are 60 climbing locations to choose from, each about 50-60 feet in height. Jackson Falls is located in Shawnee National Forest at Glen St Falls Rd, Simpson, IL 62985. For more information, click here.

Starved Rock State Park

Tonya Boyd Photography

When its comes to beautiful scenery, very few parks in the Midwest can compare to Starved Rock State Park.  Whether you enjoy hiking along the nature trails or viewing the many spectacular overlooks along the Illinois River, recreational opportunities abound. In 1966 Starved Rock State Park was named a National Historic Landmark, and now boosts more than 13 miles of well marked hiking trails, 18 canyons, and 14 different waterfalls!  From picnicking to fishing to boating, from horseback riding to camping to enjoying winter sports, there’s so much to do that you’ll want to come back again and again. Starved Rock State Park is situated along the south bank of the Illinois River, less than 100 miles from Chicago, at 2668 E 875th Rd., Oglesby, IL 61348. For more information, click here.

Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park is located three miles south of Oregon, Illinois on Highway 2 located along the west bank of the Rock River in Ogle County. The park is spread out across 2,000 acres of rolling topography, and includes six miles of marked hiking trails, and a public boat ramp/parking facility is located across from the park’s main entrance. Castle Rock is named after a sandstone bluff, adjacent to the river, that offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding river valley.  The picnic area includes tables, shelters, grills, toilets, drinking water and playground equipment. The park is located at 1365 W. Castle Rd. Oregon Illinois For more information click here.