Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Autumn in Ottawa Canyon

You do not need to go to national parks or national monuments to make great images.

No matter where you live, you can make great nature or landscape images, with a quick 3-hour or less getaway.

I offer this advice to Illinoisans: Just outside Chicago, there’s a place called Illinois.

Starved Rock State  Park in Utica, Illinois is about 2 hours away from Chicago. If you haven’t been there, go (and not just in Summer).

Feature Image Details

The feature image and the image below are from Ottawa Canyon. The views I displayed are from the top of the canyon.

The views in the canyon are nice, they are just not as nice.

Unfortunately, the park took out a nice set of stairs to the top to the views shown here. It is possible to scramble up, but it’s easy to slip, especially if the ground is wet.

The park action is very irritating. I believe what happened is someone got hurt on the upper bluff trail, so they closed it. However, the bluff trails are no more dangerous in this area than the bluff trails in other sections of the park. If anything, the park’s action made things more dangerous because people get hurt scrambling up where they know there used to be a trail.

One recent Autumn, there were a dozen or so officers hiding at the top waiting to fine people who went off the official trails.

The upper trails in this section of the park were among my favorite. They are now closed. Not to worry, the park has over 12 miles of trails that are open, including some other bluff trails.

Starved Rock State Park Trail Map

Starved Rock State Park Trail Descriptions.

If you visit the area, I highly recommend staying at the park lodge. It fills up way in advance in Autumn and may be full other times as well. Many other hotels are nearby.


Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Coming Up

In the Spring, there are waterfalls in many of the canyons. My favorites are La Salle Canyon, Tonti Canyon, and Ottawa Canyon.

Curiously, the trail descriptions left off La Salle Canyon. It’s one of my favorites. You can walk behind the waterfall.

The waterfalls all photograph best from within the canyon, not from the bluffs above.

In the winter, the waterfalls freeze.  Images coming up!

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

2 thoughts on “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Autumn in Ottawa Canyon

  1. Mish

    Thanks for these photographs. While I generally read your blog I also enjoy your photos. I grew up in Fulton County, Illinois and worked 7 years in Woodford County after getting my civil engineering degree. Then I moved west to northern Arizona, then western Nevada. While the aspens and cottonwoods here are beautiful in the fall, they cannot match the splendor of an Illinois back road in October.

    I used to canoe and kayak on the Vermillion River and the scenery was very similar to your Starved Rock photos. While I love it out here in the fall I miss Illinois the most. Thanks again!

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