As the weather warms up and the flowers start to bloom, it’s time to get outdoors and explore the beautiful state of Illinois. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike, a scenic campsite, or a unique wildlife experience, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Here are some of the best outdoor adventure spots in Illinois this spring.
- Shawnee National Forest – Located in southern Illinois, Shawnee National Forest is a popular destination for hiking and camping. With over 400 miles of trails, visitors can enjoy stunning views of rock formations, waterfalls, and lush forests. There are over 10 campgrounds to choose from, ranging from primitive to modern facilities. Don’t miss the River-to-River Trail, a 160-mile route that spans the forest from the Mississippi River to the Ohio River.
- Starved Rock State Park – Situated in Utica, Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features 13 miles of hiking trails, including the St. Louis Canyon Trail and the Wildcat Canyon Trail. Visitors can also go rock climbing, fishing, and horseback riding. There are multiple campgrounds in and around the park, making it a great spot for a weekend getaway.
- Cache River Wetlands – For a unique wildlife experience, head to the Cache River Wetlands in southern Illinois. This area is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including bald eagles, river otters, and even alligators. Visitors can explore the wetlands by canoe, kayak, or guided boat tour.
- Matthiessen State Park – Located in Oglesby, Illinois, Matthiessen State Park is known for its stunning rock formations and cascading waterfalls. The park features five miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging. There are also picnic areas and campgrounds for those who want to spend more time in nature.
- Giant City State Park – Giant City State Park is a hidden gem located in Makanda, Illinois. The park is known for its unique rock formations, including the “Giant City Streets,” a series of massive bluffs and cliffs. Visitors can hike, bike, or horseback ride on the park’s many trails, or stay in one of the rustic cabins or campsites.
- Mississippi Palisades State Park – Located in Savanna, Illinois, Mississippi Palisades State Park offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding bluffs. The park features 15 miles of hiking trails, as well as opportunities for fishing, boating, and rock climbing. There are also multiple campgrounds to choose from, making it a great spot for a family vacation.
- Kankakee River State Park – For a unique outdoor experience, head to Kankakee River State Park in Bourbonnais, Illinois. The park is situated along the Kankakee River, which offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. There are also miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as multiple campgrounds for overnight stays.
- Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie – located in Wilmington, Illinois. This 19,000-acre prairie was once used as a munitions plant during World War II, but has since been restored to its natural state. Visitors can explore over 30 miles of hiking trails, bike along the Prairie Trail, or enjoy a guided horseback ride. The prairie is also home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, prairie chickens, and various bird species. Make sure to stop by the Iron Bridge Trailhead for stunning views of the Kankakee River. With its rich history and natural beauty.
Illinois may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of outdoor adventures, but it has much to offer in terms of natural beauty and outdoor recreation. From the forests and wetlands in the south to the bluffs and rivers in the north, there’s no shortage of places to explore. So grab your hiking boots, pack a tent, and get ready to discover the best outdoor adventure spots in Illinois this spring!
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