Skip to main content

Wisconsin Parent

Midwest Travel: Starved Rock State Park, Utica, Illinois

Nov 18, 2013 11:04AM ● Published by Julie Henning

Illinois River Valley

If you live in Wisconsin and love the Kettle Moraines, Devil's Lake, or even the Iron Range, then you should point your car south and head down to Utica, Illinois for a getaway in the Illinois River Valley.

Gateway to the 2,600 acre Starved Rock State Park, the region features sandstone canyons, seasonal waterfalls, and hiking trails galore. A beautiful four-season destination, Utica is closer than you may think: Google Maps says 2 hours and 30 minutes from Milwaukee or Dubuque, 2 hours and 15 minutes from Madison, and 1 hour and 30 minutes from both Chicago and Davenport.

FrenchCanyon

Voted the #1 Fan Favorite Attraction in the state of Illinois in 2012, not only Starved Rock State Park and the Starved Rock Lodge & Conference center conveniently located, it's also quite affordable. Park admission is free and room rates range from $80 to $215 (the most expensive option is for two bedroom Family Pioneer Cabin that sleeps five). Nearby camping is also available.

Starved Rock Lodge

The main lodge was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and features hand-crafted hardwood furniture and a grand stone fireplace in the Great Hall. Fear not, the lodge has an indoor swimming area complete with hot tub, sauna, and kiddie pool. If you plan to swim, you may want to consider making a lodging reservation in the main lodge (the bathrooms do have lockers and changing areas if you trek over from one of the cabins).

Great Hall Fireplace

A bit like stepping back in time, a weekend at Starved Rock State Park feels like summer camp and family vacation all wrapped into one. Ideal for families with elementary-age kids, the park Visitor Center features educational exhibits and a 15-minute video that explains the geological and historical significance of the region.

Looking at Starved Rock

A total of 12.3 miles of hiking trails lead park visitors to 18 sandstone canyons, many of which have seasonal waterfalls that freeze into spectacular ice falls in the winter months. Worth the short drive is venturing over to nearby Matthiessen State Park and visiting Lake Falls (look for signs leading you to The Dells entrance).

Lake Falls

When you're tired out from hiking, snowshoeing, or climbing up and down stairs, consider a regional trolley tour or making a jaunt to the city of North Utica for shopping, antiquing, or learning about the local artists or winemakers.

Trolley

We loved Nonie's Bakery and Cafe (think pastries 'to die for' served on mismatched vintage china) and shopping for souvenirs at the eclectic Mix's Trading post.

TradingPostExterior

A weekend that shifted our "Illinois Flatland" paradigm, Starved Rock State Park will remain a favorite Midwest Travel destination for years to come. Enjoy more photos from our weekend adventure and have a listen to the Midwest Travel podcast episode featuring Starved Rock Lodge Director of Marketing Casstevens (click here or use the player linked above).

 [nggallery id=4]
Travel family vacation getaways hiking illinois lodge midwest travel sandstone state park utica waterfalls
  • Tour de Marsh

    10/21/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Dementia Care and Concerns Workshop

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Parish Nurse Coordinator Bob Gionet, RN, and St. Mary’s Health Ministry Board invite you to join ...


  • International Archaeology Day

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    Step into an archaeologist’s boots to explore how these professionals piece together history. Dig...


  • Harvest Fest

    10/21/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Bring your family and friends to Peace Lutheran's 5th annual Harvest Fest on Saturday, October 21...


  • BDACT: Lombardi, the play

    10/21/2017
    07:30PM

    October 11 at 7:30 (Final dress rehearsal and preview night) $5.00 October 13 at 7:30pm Octob...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/22/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/22/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/23/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/24/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Hospitality Training 101

    10/24/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    Hospitality Training 101 Send your front line staff, receptionists, sales associates and other...


  • Mom's Unite Evening Meet Up

    10/24/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/25/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Morning Meet Up

    10/25/2017
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/25/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • Downtown Madison Family Halloween

    10/25/2017
    03:00PM — 06:00PM

    Join us for an afternoon of spooky fun at the Museum! Explore our haunted cabin, meet our hodag, ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/26/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Active Play Meet Up

    10/26/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/26/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • A DBDI After-Hours Social and Update will take place on Thursday October 26th from 4:30 - 6:30 at...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/27/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/27/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • Family Night

    10/27/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Sponsored by Tony Pochowski with Midwest Financial, this month's Family Night will consist of a D...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/21/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Dementia Care and Concerns Workshop

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Parish Nurse Coordinator Bob Gionet, RN, and St. Mary’s Health Ministry Board invite you to join ...


  • International Archaeology Day

    10/21/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    Step into an archaeologist’s boots to explore how these professionals piece together history. Dig...


  • Harvest Fest

    10/21/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Bring your family and friends to Peace Lutheran's 5th annual Harvest Fest on Saturday, October 21...


  • BDACT: Lombardi, the play

    10/21/2017
    07:30PM

    October 11 at 7:30 (Final dress rehearsal and preview night) $5.00 October 13 at 7:30pm Octob...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/22/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/22/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/23/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/24/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Hospitality Training 101

    10/24/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    Hospitality Training 101 Send your front line staff, receptionists, sales associates and other...


  • Mom's Unite Evening Meet Up

    10/24/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/25/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Morning Meet Up

    10/25/2017
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/25/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • Downtown Madison Family Halloween

    10/25/2017
    03:00PM — 06:00PM

    Join us for an afternoon of spooky fun at the Museum! Explore our haunted cabin, meet our hodag, ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/26/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Active Play Meet Up

    10/26/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/26/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • A DBDI After-Hours Social and Update will take place on Thursday October 26th from 4:30 - 6:30 at...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/27/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Community Art Project Exhibit

    10/27/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    The Community Art Project is intended to raise awareness of the visual arts by reaching out to th...


  • Family Night

    10/27/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Sponsored by Tony Pochowski with Midwest Financial, this month's Family Night will consist of a D...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/28/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Grief Awareness Workshop

    10/28/2017
    08:30AM — 11:00AM

    Father Mike Erwin and Parish Nurse Ya-Fen Szczesny, of St. Katharine Drexel Paris...


  • Geocache Class & Hunt

    10/28/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Looking for an adventure? Want to explore your community? Join us in learning all the details you...


  • Purpose Workshop

    10/28/2017
    11:00AM — 01:00PM

    Research shows that people who know their purpose and can clearly articulate it can add up to sev...


  • BDACT:Halloween Spooktacular Party

    10/28/2017
    08:00PM — 12:00AM

    Featuring an Escape Room, Music, Costume Contests, and showings of THE PIT (filmed in Beaver Dam)...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/29/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Trick or Treat in Beaver Dam

    10/29/2017
    04:00PM — 06:00PM

    The annual City of Beaver Dam "official" Trick or Treat event is always held the Sunday closest t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/30/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    10/31/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/01/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Senior Movie Matinee

    11/01/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Introducing something new for our WISER friends (60 yrs +)! Every 1st Wednesday of every month, w...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/02/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Leadership Luncheon

    11/02/2017
    12:00PM — 12:45PM

    Join us on Thursday November 2nd from Noon to 12:45 pm in the Chamber Conference Room for an educ...


  • Kids in the Kitchen & Movie Night

    11/02/2017
    05:00PM — 09:00PM

    Attention Moms and Dads! Here’s a great opportunity to have some fun with your kids and help them...


  • Books & Beer with Author Sara Dahmen

    11/02/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us as we talk with author Sara Dahmen about her historical fiction series which begins with ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/03/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Scrapbooking

    11/03/2017
    06:00PM — 10:00PM

    Love to Scrapbook? Looking for some time with friends? Join us for a ladies scrapbooking evening ...


  • Songs We Love (Not Necessarily Love Songs) Featuring four part vocal harmony, the group has pick...


  • Arsenic and Old Lace

    11/03/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Arsenic and Old Lace is a farcical black comedy by Joseph Kesselring made popular through a film ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/04/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Volunteer with Us

    11/04/2017
    09:00AM — 03:00PM

    Volunteers live longer and have greater well-being. That is why Blue Zones Project Dodge County i...


  • Story Saturday: Wisconsin Book Festival

    11/04/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    The Wisconsin Historical Museum is proud to partner with the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Madi...


  • Songs We Love (Not Necessarily Love Songs) Featuring four part vocal harmony, the group has pick...


  • Arsenic and Old Lace

    11/04/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    Arsenic and Old Lace is a farcical black comedy by Joseph Kesselring made popular through a film ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/05/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Songs We Love (Not Necessarily Love Songs) Featuring four part vocal harmony, the group has pick...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/06/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/07/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • A musical retrospective of the 1960’s is presented with the acclaimed Five by Design, known for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/08/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/09/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/10/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Songs We Love (Not Necessarily Love Songs) Featuring four part vocal harmony, the group has pick...


  • Tour de Marsh

    11/11/2017
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Chili & Soup Supper * Silent Auction Saturday, November 11 4 pm - 8 pm Serving chili and pota...


  • Songs We Love (Not Necessarily Love Songs) Featuring four part vocal harmony, the group has pick...



Special Thanks to These Relaunch Partners


Woodman's Markets - Employee Owned
Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau