Days don’t get much better than this. After a lazy morning (thanks to a way-too-late night with the Cutlers eating fondue and drinking too much), we threw the kids in the car and set out for Goose Lake Prairie State Park, mainly because it was within an hour of the house and the weather was perfect (70 and mostly sunny).
After an hour hike on one of their trails with my four year-old, we got back in the car for a leisurely drive back home. Then a strange thing happened: as we worked our way north to the highway, we saw a sign that said we were just 10 miles from Starved Rock. We’d heard a few friends mention Starved Rock but didn’t know anything about it. Why not?
Are you kidding me? Look at these photos — that’s not Illinois, that’s California! 18 canyons, 13 miles of trails, a gorgeous campground with wooded lots… if you thought we were obnoxious about how much we loved Illinois before, well, now we’re going to be pretty much unbearable.
Starved Rock is a state park that also has a phenomenal lodge on the grounds. The lodge includes 20+ year-round cabins, as well as 70+ rooms in the lodge itself. For the first time since we moved here, we actually experienced elevation!! Even better, it was elevation in a forest! (Trust me, as nice as Illinois has been, you can get spoiled camping on the valley floor at Yosemite and hiking the Summit Trail. Illinois, by comparison, is flat. And pretty much tree-less.)
We’re already planning trips back to Starved Rock — if we’re lucky, we’ll get at least one camping weekend in before it gets too cool.
Was also interested to see a link to letterboxing at the Starved Rock site; it’s similar to Geocaching. It occurred to me that Geocaching might just be the ideal hobby for us — we love the outdoors, the kids love maps, and it’s a great way to see the surrounding area. (It doesn’t hurt that it satisfies my technology fetish as well.) Anyone have any recommendations for gear, getting started tips, etc.?