Mainstream Adventures

When You Constantly Push Your Limits You Will Never Reach Them

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5 Great Hikes in Illinois That You Never Heard Of

Working out at the gym can get mundane for outdoor enthusiasts, so many decide to pursue invigorating hikes in nature. From rock formations to scenic canyons, Illinois offers several challenging trails for hikers seeking a refreshing outdoor experience. Many of these hiking trails are located within state parks, but each is scenic and offers a fantastic cardio workout for fitness lovers of all experience levels. Here are five energizing hikes throughout the state.

1. SWALLOW CLIFF, PALOS PARK, IL

Experience the ultimate lower body workout at Swallow Cliff. This natural area features a 100-foot-tall bluff, drawing visitors seeking a challenging hike or run up the steep limestone stairs. The trail also passes through an 800-acre forest preserve with hilly terrain.

2. APPLE RIVER CANYON STATE PARK

Known for its steep limestone bluffs. Apple River Canyon State Park features a scenic canyon area formed by a vast sea that used to exist in the area. The park offers five hiking trails that wind through the woods. These trails are several miles long and can be hazardous, so they’re more suitable for advanced hikers looking for an energizing workout.

3. GIANT CITY STATE PARK

Giant City State Park is famous for its huge rock formations and lush landscapes. Although hikers can enjoy several trails through the park, the Red Cedar Hiking Trail offers a more challenging 12-mile hike with an overnight campsite. This hike is ideal for an invigorating workout for more experienced hikers.

4. GARDEN OF THE GODS TRAIL IN SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST

Garden of the Gods is one of the most beautiful scenic areas in the state. Located in Shawnee National Forest, this natural wonder was created from over 300 million years of erosion. Now hikers can experience these sculptured rock formations and breathtaking views from the Observation Trail, which offers an energizing hike for all fitness levels.

5. YELLOW TRAIL AT DEER GROVE FOREST PRESERVE

There are three unpaved and two paved trails at the Deer Grove Forest Persevere. The Yellow Trail is the longest in the area at 5.4 miles. According to its site, this historic 1,800-acre preserve attracts everyone from “serious botanists to weekend joggers.” This is an excellent place for a refreshing hike among beautiful wildlife.

A Weekend of Adventure in Branson

Branson Missouri is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Midwest.  Its also a great destination for Adventure.  With beautiful lakes,  over 200 miles of hiking trails, and natural beauty only found in the Ozarks its easy to see why. From world class hiking, to some of the most beautiful show caves in the country, to amazing tree houses.  Branson is a dream come true for adventure seekers.

When it comes to hiking in the Midwest, few places can compare to the beautiful hiking trails in and around Branson.  From Table Rock State Park,to Mark Twain National Forest, the area is loaded with scenic trails.  Featuring towering bluffs, roaring waterfalls, tall trees and scenic overlooks, Branson is a dream come true for nature lovers!

While visiting Branson 3 places stand out above the rest. Branson Treehouse Adventures, Dogwood Canyon, and Talking Rocks Cavern.

Lodging:  While there are lots of options when looking for a place to stay in Branson, only one delivers an unforgettable experience!  Branson Treehouse Adventures offers a one of a kind camping experience, with 7 different treehouses and 4 ground level cabins to choose from.

 Showcaves:  Missouri is known as the cave state, so its no surprise to find so many beautiful caves in the area.  But since you only have a weekend to explore you need to pick the best cave in the area.  Luckily for you I have already done the research, and Talking Rocks Cavern is the premier show cave in Branson.

Outdoors:  This area has so much natural beauty packed into one place it made be hard to choose a destination.  However Dogwood Canyon is possibly the most beautiful location in the entire Midwest.  The park is spread out on more than 10,000 acres of ruggedly beautiful terrain.  The park has 4 waterfalls, 2 lakes, and a beautiful meandering stream, that winds its way through the canyon.

When planning your next trip, be sure to consider Branson as a destination.  With so many great adventures packed into one area,your sure to have an experience you won’t soon forget.

This Hidden Beach In Missouri Will Take You A Million Miles Away From It All

Located just ninety minutes outside of St. Louis there’s a beach not many people, know about. Spend a day there and you’ll feel a million miles away from everything.

Carved into the cliffs and featuring a nice sandy bottom, Fugitive Beach gives locals near Rolla, MO a chance to relax on a beautiful sandy beach and  swim in the bluest water you have ever seen.

This rural oasis is packed full of water attractions and has an attractive wide sandy beach.

Fugitive Beach used to be an old rock quarry, abandoned after years of excavation.

Now, it’s a happy little swimming spot just south of Rolla, Missouri and not far off Interstate 44.

At Fugitive Beach you can take a spin down the 60-foot waterslide, dare to try cliff-jumping…

or…just float and soak to your heart’s content.

Set aside a day for some fun on this gorgeous landlocked beach in Missouri. The Fugitive Beach is located at 16875 County Road 5285, Rolla, MO 65401.

For An Unforgettable Summer, Visit Seven Oaks Recreation!

Winter, spring, summer, or fall, this is one destination that has it all! No matter the season, your sure to have a great time at Seven Oaks Recreation. At Seven Oaks they pride themselves in offering the best family fun activities in the area all year long.

Looking for a great place for your next float trip? Seven Oaks has just the trip for you! Currently they are offering two float options. The first trip is a 2-4 hour float covering about 7 miles. This scenic trip is great for first timers, or those with young children, or for larger groups. The second trip is a 5-8 hour float that covers 15 miles on the beautiful Des Moines River. This scenic float will take you past the ledges of Ledges State Park. This trip is for experienced paddlers, or those looking to spend the whole day on the river. With either trip you choose, the staff at Seven Oaks handles everything. So all you need to worry about is having fun!

Have you ever wanted to challenge your family, friends or coworkers to a duel? With the safe and family friendly paintball facility at Seven Oaks you can! Imagine going to war with your friends on the Seven Oaks battlefield spread out over 2 acres of flat grassy land. The course is littered with structures for you to hide behind, while waiting for the perfect opportunity to ambush the opposing team.

Looking for a little excitement? The Gladiator Assault Challenge, may be just what your looking for. This exciting 5-7 mile race features 30+ obstacles, and will challenge you both mentally and physically. The Gladiator Assault Challenge is the Midwest’s premier obstacle course and takes place Saturday May 18th and Sunday May 19th. If there is one race to run in 2019, this is it!

Seven Oaks is also a great location for your next event. Whether its a wedding reception, class reunion, corporate event, family reunion, or a graduation party, The lodge at Seven Oaks is the perfect location. Situated at the bottom of the ski trails, the lodge has a 16 foot vaulted ceiling and a natural knotty pine interior. With seating for 400, a full bar, and an excellent staff, any event held in the lodge is sure to be a hit!

During the winter months Seven Oaks transforms into one of Iowa’s most sought out ski resorts. The slopes consist of 11 runs, from beginner to expert, so no matter your skill level, your sure to find what your looking for at Seven Oaks. The ski resort also has a terrain park, rail yard, and a beginner area.

For more information visit:

https://www.sevenoaksrec.com/

(515) 432-9457

This Waterfall Staircase Hike May Be The Most Unique In All Of Iowa

Iowa’s state parks are truly the hidden treasures of the Midwest. We’ve got all sorts of things hiding in the Hawkeye State – from a gorgeous blue lagoon to a virtually unknown tunnel, and even a castle! One of the best places to visit in Iowa’s state park network is the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls in Pikes Peak State Park. Take a look at this unique Iowa hike below!

Most visitors to Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa, stop by to take in the view of the Mississippi River from a 500-foot-high cliff, but there’s more to see here!

One of the most unique Iowa hikes is right here in this pretty park – and it’s the boardwalk staircase hike along Bridal View Trail.

This short but steep path will take you through some beautiful and hilly forest before dropping you off at your destination.

In the fall, this trail is one of the states most popular places for fall foilage.

The boardwalk is well maintained, but there’s a bit of an elevation change

The efforts are well worth it on this pretty stroll, and most anyone can make it the half mile to the falls.

The boardwalk staircase will take you directly to the star of the show – Bridal Veil Falls.

The sight of Bridal View Falls is something you’ll carry with you forever. Particularly after a hard rain, it’s a gorgeous cascade.

On a hot day, you can (carefully!) even walk behind this waterfall and cool off a little.

Of course, if you’re at Pikes Peak State Park, you should still take a detour to one of the beautiful overlooks.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better view anywhere in the Midwest – it will truly take your breath away.

Pikes Peak State Park is a great place to camp, too, if you want to take your time exploring the enormous park.

If you’re looking to head out on this unique Iowa hike, you’ll want to head to the park at 32264 Pikes Peak Rd, McGregor, IA 52157.

There Is Only One Place In Illinois You Can Go Whitewater Rafting

Rafting the Vermilion River is an amazing experience for several reasons. First, It is one of the rare rivers in the US that runs South to North.  Second,  its total lack of development along its banks. It’s a unique river because during the whole trip the only man made structure you will see is the Lone Star Cement Plant near the end.

One of only a few white water rafting experience’s in the Midwest. The  Vermilion River pushes a swift 3 MPH pace, during its high season.  Using the International Scale of River Difficulty from the American Whitewater Affiliation, the Big Vermilion River would probably rate a Class III out of 6 classes.

There are about 14 sets of rapids spread out over 9 1/2 miles. Most are classified 1’s and 2’s, but If the river water is up over 4 foot, you will get some class 3 rapids.  Highlights of the float include Wildcat Falls, the Lone Star Dam, and The Narrows.

For a modest charge, Vermilion River Rafting supplies a raft, paddles, life vests and rafting instructions.  They will even shuttle your vehicle to the Oglesby bridge take out point.  Vermilion River Rafting is a local outfitter on the river, offering everything you need for an enjoyable float experience.

Don’t Miss: This is a rare opportunity to enjoy white water rafting, right here in Illinois. The season is short as water levels drop quickly so plan your trip early.

Logistic’s:  779 North 2249th Road | Oglesby, IL 61348

Best Time:  Rafting the Vermilion River has a very limited season.  Water levels are only high enough from May through early July.

Pit Stop:  After a day on the river, relax at August Hill Winery in nearby Utica.  Visit the tasting room fora extensive selection of locally made wines.  Afterwards you can enjoy live music on the patio or lounge.

Extended Play: The Illinois Valley Starved Rock Area has 3 of Illinois best state parks, within just a few miles of the Vermilion River.  Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, and Buffalo Rock State Park.

Travel Smart:  White water rafting is not for everyone, if you get sea sick easily or have motion sickness, this may not be the trip for you.  Know your own limits and always wear a life jacket while on the water.  With a limited season, the demand is high, so book your trip early many weekends will fill up fast.

A Look At History At The Grotto Of The Redemption

Grotto of the Redemption:

Often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world.  The Grotto of the Redemption is located in West Bend.  The Grotto is a religious shrine containing nine separate sections.  Each section depicts a different scene from the life of Jesus.

Father Paul Doberstein began construction in 1912, and continued year round until his death in 1954.  Construction is still ongoing to this day, and has been maintained by Deacon Gerald Streit since 1994.

The Grotto is the world’s most complete man made collection of minerals, fossils, and precious gemstones, and is believed to be the largest grotto in the world.  The total value of all the rocks and minerals used in creating the grotto is over 4 million dollars. The grotto is one of the largest tourist attractions in Iowa with over 100,000 visitors annually.

Father Doberstein’s work is created with starting the grotto building movement in America, which includes The Dickeyville Grotto in Wisconsin, and the Apocalypse Grotto in Indiana.  While there are many grotto’s around the country, none of them even compare to the Grotto of the Redemption, this one of a kind masterpiece outshines all the others.

Don’t Miss:  While in West Bend, be sure to take a short drive to Pocahontas Iowa.  Home of the worlds largest Pocahontas statue.  Pocahontas just not your thing?  Then take a visit to nearby Mallard and visit Iowa’s largest duck

Logistics:  Located in West Bend, at 300 North Broadway street.

Best Time:  Open for tours June through August, from 10-5 daily, and 10-4 in may, September, and October.    if traveling I recommend calling to verify openings.  515-887-2371

Pit Stop:  While in town be sure to stop by the Villager.  Located at 105 South Broadway Avenue.  The Villager is an old fashioned soda fountain and gift shop.  Reminiscent of the 1930’s era.

Extended Play:  You can spend the night at the Grotto  campgrounds, which has 75 different campsites, with electrical hookups, shower facilities, and a playground.  Forgot to pack your tent?  No problem.  The Living Vine bed and breakfast is right down the road contact Ron at 515-320-5072 for booking information.

Travel Smart:  The Grotto is an outdoor structure, and there is a fair amount of walking.  Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfy shoes.

This Place Is The Stuff Of Nightmares

Conveniently nestled at the end of a dark, dead in road sitting on a cliff across from a cemetery,  lies the Raven’s Grin Inn!  Just the site of the building is enough to gives visitors chills.  The front of the old Victorian home is covered in gnarled tree limbs, a large metal skull anchors one end, half of a taxi cab hangs off the other. There is also a  mannequin firing the machine gun and the miniature steel tank. That’s just the outside.

Inside the house, gets even creepier. There is a labyrinth of twists and turns that would be easy to get lost in.  One of the passages was dug through the hard stone ground by the owner/tour guide. Another was constructed from old doors.   There is also a hidden slide that drops down into the wine cellar.

But the twists and turns are only one part of the tour, the other is the unique storytelling of the tour guide.  Most of the narration, given by the guide is stories from past  guests experiences inside the house.  To add to the terror, the house is neatly decorated to celebrate the macabre.

Don’t Miss:  The drop slide, so many people opt out of this part of the tour and take the stairs instead.  This is the highlight of the tour, don’t pass on it.

Logistic’s:  411 N Carroll St, Mt Carroll, IL 61053

Best Time:  The Ravens Grin Inn is open year round.  The only really bad time to visit is around Halloween.  Its around this time of year that the crowds get really big, and the lines are long.

Pit Stop:  There is a Dairy Queen just up the road from the Inn, open year round.

Extended Play:  Enjoy a dinner theater at Timber Lake Playhouse.

Travel Smart:  Be sure to allow yourself enough time.  Tour times vary from 1 hour to 3 hours long, with no rhyme or reason to it.  Also dress according some parts of the tour do take you outside.  You will be on your feet so comfortable shoes are a must.

Your Complete Guide To Winter Adventure

As you can tell by the cold weather, winter is almost upon us.  When the cold weather hits, all to often Adventure comes to a halt.  With that said I thought it was a good time to compile a list of some of the Midwest’s best winter adventures.  These activities are guaranteed to get the blood pumping, and give you the sense of Adventure you desire.

Visit Climb Iowa:

Escape the cold weather  with a trip to Climb Iowa, This indoor(Climate Controlled) climbing facility is located only 5 miles from Des Moines. With more then 10,000 square feet of climbing space and over 200 different routes, a fitness room, and a yoga studio, There is literally something for everyone, regardless of skill level. Climb Iowa offers day passes and monthly memberships. For more info call 515-986-2565

Kayak The Crystal City Underground:

In 2013 Marsan Canoe and Kayak Tours began offering one of the most amazing float trips available today. This experience is so rare, that I could not find any comparable trip in the entire United States. All tours are run by expert guides of great personality, who do an outstanding job both guiding the tour and providing an interesting/entertaining history of the mine.  Reservations can be made by calling: 636-208-5054

Visit Seven Oaks Recreation:

Seven Oaks is a great location year round for adventure, but in the winter months it turns into one of the states best ski resorts.   Offering guests a wide range of fun activities including, skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.  The slopes consist of 11 runs, from beginner to expert, so no matter your skill level, your sure to find what your looking for at Seven Oaks. The ski resort also has a terrain park, rail yard, and a beginner area. For more information call 515 432-9457

Visit The Louisville Mega Cavern:

The Mega Cavern offers two amazing tours, the first tour is called Mega Zip, which is a 2 ½ hour guided Adventure, that takes you into never before seen sections of the Cavern. This tour features six underground zip lines, which includes a dual racing line which is over 900 feet long,a bunny zip, a Zip to Hell, the Cross Canyon Zip, and the Lake Canyon Zip, as well as two amazing challenge bridges. If you’re looking for an Adventure that will get your adrenaline pumping, the Mega Zip is the trip for you.  If your looking for a more relaxing Adventure, then check out the Mega Tram. This one hour tour takes you through many of the man made passages lurking beneath the city of Louisville. This tour gives seniors, children, and the physically impaired an amazing opportunity, for a little Adventure of their own all from the comfort of the Mega Tram.  For more information call (877) 614-6342

Learn How To Scuba Dive:

At Matt Leyden’s Dive Shop you can enjoy scuba diving in the middle of winter. Mastering a new skill is always a great way to spend the winter months, just think by spring time you could be a certified scuba diver! Classes are offered year round, and are taught by some of most experienced dive masters in the state. Matt Leyden’s Dive Shop is located in Clive, and offers classes all over the Des Moines area. For more information or to register for a class call 515-777-2751

Spend the Night in a Treehouse:

One weekend at Branson Treehouse Adventures, and you will never want to leave.  These charming log cabins very in size and style, so whether you’re looking for a great location for your next family reunion,  an amazing vacation destination , or just a romantic get away with that special someone you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for at Branson Treehouse Adventures.  For more information call 800-338-2504

Tour A Show Cave:

Talking Rocks Cavern has been referred to as Missouri’s Most Beautiful Cave! Which is quite an honor considering there are over 7,300 known caves in the state.  However just one peek inside and it’s easy to see why it has earned this prestigious nickname.  Cave tours consists of an hour long walk taking visitors on a breathtaking vertical descent into a subterranean wonderland.  For more information call 417-272-3366.

Spend The Night In a Cabin:

Bear Creek Cabins is a perfect location to spend winter break, and is also a popular location for many families during the holidays.  Words really can not do this place justice, a trip to Bear Creek is like taking a trip back in time.  The cabins are situated between the number 1 and number 2 ranked trout streams in the state, and offer breathtaking views year round.  I can’t think of a better location to get snowed in, then Bear Creek Cabins. They are several cabins of all different sizes available, so bring the whole family. For more information call 563-546-7722

Take  A Haunted Tour Of The Raven’s Grin Inn:

Conveniently nestled at the end of a dark, dead in road sitting on a cliff across from a cemetery,  lies the Raven’s Grin Inn!  Just the site of the building is enough to gives visitors chills.  The front of the old Victorian home is covered in gnarled tree limbs, a large metal skull anchors one end, half of a taxi cab hangs off the other. There is also a  mannequin firing the machine gun and the miniature steel tank. That’s just the outside.  Inside the house, gets even creepier. There is a labyrinth of twists and turns that would be easy to get lost in.  One of the passages was dug through the hard stone ground by the owner/tour guide. Another was constructed from old doors.   There is also a hidden slide that drops down into the wine cellar.  For more information call (815)244-4746

Explore Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is one of the most amazing state parks you will find in the Midwest.  The park rests on more than 3,700 acres of rough, hilly, Ozark terrain.  Ha Ha Tonka is a popular destination for hikers looking to enjoy the 15 miles of pristine hiking trails.  The park is easy to navigate with a series of trails and boardwalks.

The park has been referred to as a geological wonderland, with sinkholes, caves, a natural bridge, and one of the largest natural springs in the state, it’s easy to see why.

One of the park’s most popular attractions is the ruins of a turn of the century stone castle.  Construction on the castle began in 1905, but it was destroyed in 1942 by a fire.  Today all that remains are the stone ruins resting on a hilltop overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks.

With so many amazing natural features, Ha Ha Tonka is one state park you will want to visit again and again.

Don’t Miss:  While visiting Ha Ha Tonka, be sure to visit the ruins of the castle.  This area offers breathtaking views of the park as well as a look at history.

Logistic’s:  The park is located on the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, approximately 5 miles south of Camdenton Missouri.

Best Time:  Its always a great time to visit the park, however my favorite time to visit is during the fall, when the leaves begin to change color.

Pit Stop:  Every time i’m in the area, I stop into Pepperoni Bills Pizzeria in nearby Camdenton.  Sandwiches, salads, wings and delicious mouth watering pizza.  Pepperoni Bills is one of those places that’s worth a trip from anywhere.

Extended Play: Book a stay at the Tan-Tar-A  Resort, and cool off at the Timberfalls Indoor Waterpark. Located on the Lake Of The Ozarks.

Travel Smart:  When hiking i always suggest bug spray, and sunscreen.  Comfortable shoes are also a must.  I also suggest checking weather conditions before and during your hike, there is nothing worse then getting stuck out on a hike during in climate weather.

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