Cities Journal

There’s Water Adventure Waiting For You In Illinois


There are waterfalls in Illinois? Only out-of-staters are surprised by the waterfalls created by the spring thaw and rain in the 18 canyons of the sadly named Starved Rock State Park.

According to a legend dating back to the 1760s, the chief of the Illinois tribe stabbed the chief of the Ottawa tribe during a council meeting in the area. The Ottawa clan then launched an attack on the Illinois tribe, whose members escaped to a great rock in the park but died of starvation.

Formed by stream erosion and glacier melt, the canyons located about 90 miles west of Chicago cut through four miles of sandstone bluffs. You can try any number of scenic park hikes to explore the terrain dating back hundreds of millions of years. Bald eagles arrive in late December, and there’s always an ‘eagle watch’ weekend in January. Don’t worry if that sounds too cold for you: the magnificent birds tend to stay until March.

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