Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Autumn in Kaskaskia Canyon

This is a third in a series of posts on Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

If you haven’t been there, go.  If you have been there, then go back, in a different season. My favorites are Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer, in that order.

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

Feature Image Details

The feature image and the image below are from Upper Kaskaskia Canyon.  The upper Ottawa, Upper Kaskaskia, and Upper Illinois canyons all connect. Those trails are among my favorites in the park.

I debated posting the images because the park closed these trails.

The park took out a nice set of stairs 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.

Not to worry, the park has over 12 miles of trails that are open, including some other bluff trails. In the Winter and Spring when water is flowing the most, the waterfalls are best viewed from the lower trails, and those trails are always open.


Additional Details

There was a tiny flow of water that created that mini-whirlpool in the foreground of both images.  The upper pool is waist deep. I know because I slipped and fell in. Yes, it was cold.

If you visit the area, I highly recommend staying at the park lodge. The loge fills up way in advance in Autumn and may be full other times as well. Many other hotels are nearby. I will likely be in the park one of the next two weekends, if not both.

In the Spring, there are waterfalls in many of the canyons. In the Winter, the waterfalls freeze.

My favorite waterfalls are in La Salle Canyon, Tonti Canyon, and Ottawa Canyon, all accessible from the lower trails any time of year.

The state park Trail Descriptions Map inadvertently skipped La Salle Canyon. It’s one of my favorites.


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


Peak Time Coming Up!

I expect colors to peak next weekend or early November. When our Ginkgo trees peak, the park peaks at the same time. We are not quite there yet.

The images I posted are from prior years. I have a couple more Autumn images in mind, then I will move on to Winter and Spring scenes taken in prior years.

As is normally the case, I like to showcase a place in detail rather than post random images from all over the place.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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