Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Illinois Canyon Autumn Reflections

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

I took these images the first week in November of 2017. They are from Illinois Canyon, the longest and arguably the prettiest canon in the park.

There are numerous color variations and weathered details on the sandstone walls in Illinois canyon that are not present in other canyons. Also, the sandstone is not as carved up with fool’s initials as much as many other canyons.

The canyon floor can be muddy, especially in the Spring. I recommend waterproof boots, ankle high is generally sufficient.

The reflection images show the water you may encounter. It’s not that deep. but in Spring and Fall, it can be cold. There are several places one needs to cross water. Usually, you can find a spot that a waterproof hi-top shoe can navigate without getting wet.

Feature Image Details

I used a high ISO to freed the water as best I could. There was a slight breeze.

Here is a second shot from the same spot with a longer focal length.

Additional Details

The second image was taken with a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 67mm, F16, also ISO 1000.

In the featured image, the light was only hitting the tops of the trees. The above image was taken a few minutes earlier. The light was still hitting the ground in some places, but not the water.

The big swaths of color are from trees in the far distant background. The trunks and the yellow highlights at the bottom of both images are from trees close by.

Reflection Tips

Reflections work best when the water is in the shade, but the reflected object is sunlit. The sun hit only part of the landscape in the feature image, but not the water at all. The result is an image where you can see partially through the water on the right side.

I used a polarizer on both images. Polarizers can reduce or eliminate reflections. I did not want the reflections eliminated. Instead, I rotated the polarizer just enough to see some leaf detail beneath the surface. Notice the rocks in the second image and the leaf details in the first.


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.


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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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