Mainstream Adventures

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5 Illinois Parks That Are Perfect For A Little Adventure Volume 3

Mathiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is located just 2.5 miles south of the famous Starved Rock!  Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology, as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. The main hiking trails are separated into two sections by a 45 foot drop from  the upper dells to the lower dells.  The trails navigate you through the limestone canyon, and feature stunning sites, including a cave, towering bluffs, and several waterfalls. Come visit Matthiessen State Park and find out why it’s considered one of Illinois’s best kept secrets! Matthiessen State Park is an Illinois state park located a few miles south of the more famous Starved Rock State Park. The main entrances to both parks are located on Illinois State Route 178, the entrance is located at 2500 IL-178, Oglesby, IL. For more information, click here.

Garden Of The Gods

Easily the most popular attraction at Shawnee National Forest .  This garden of sandstone sculptures and vast untouched wilderness was fittingly named Garden of the Gods. The park contains a variety of plant and animal life, adding to the scenic beauty of the Shawnee Forest. There are also plenty of trails for backpacking and horseback riding, allowing nature lovers a welcome tour of what this rugged environment has to offer! Garden Of The Gods is located in the Shawnee National Forest in Hardin, Pope, Saline, and Gallatin counties of Illinois. For more information, click here.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

Mississippi Palisades Is and enchanting park located in Savanna Illinois overlooking the mighty Mississippi River.  Caves, unique rock formations, twisting trails and  tall trees make this park incredible incredible anytime of year.  The park boasts an impressive trail system, with more than 15 miles of winding through rugged terrain. Mississippi Palisades State Park is located at 16327A IL-84, Savanna, Il. For more information, click here.

Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area

Hiking with Shawn

Bell Smith Springs is one of the most beautiful recreation areas the Shawnee National Forest has to offer. The area features an abundance of strange and wonderful rock formations, such as Devil’s Backbone, Boulder Falls and a natural rock bridge. Hiking this system of trails is a favorite activity because of the rock features, scenic overlooks, hidden springs and lush flora and fauna. Bell Smith Springs is located at Bell Smith Springs Rd, Ozark, IL. For more information, click here.

Starved Rock State Park

Tonya Boyd Photography

When its comes to beautiful scenery, very few parks in the Midwest can compare to Starved Rock State Park.  Whether you enjoy hiking along the nature trails or viewing the many spectacular overlooks along the Illinois River, recreational opportunities abound. In 1966 Starved Rock State Park was named a National Historic Landmark, and now boosts more than 13 miles of well marked hiking trails, 18 canyons, and 14 different waterfalls!  From picnicking to fishing to boating, from horseback riding to camping to enjoying winter sports, there’s so much to do that you’ll want to come back again and again. Starved Rock State Park is situated along the south bank of the Illinois River, less than 100 miles from Chicago, at 2668 E 875th Rd., Oglesby, IL 61348. For more information, click here.

5 Illinois Parks That Are Perfect For A Little Adventure Volume 2

Cave in Rock State Park

Cave in Rock State Park, is located in Cave in Rock, a sleepy town in southern Illinois. The park is located on the banks of the Ohio River, and is available for camping and hiking year round. Visitors can explore inside the cave on foot, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Ohio River from within! The cave has also been featured in popular culture, dating back to 1956, when Walt Disney Productions shot Davy Crockett and the river pirates.  Cave in Rock State Park is located at 1 New State Park Road, Cave in Rock Illinois. For more information, click here.

Giant City State Park

This picture is owned by Michael Flavin

At Giant City State Park, you will be in awe of the incredible rock formations that were forged some 12,000 years ago. There are several trails here for you to explore. Other than the 12 mile Red Cedar Hiking Trail, the rest are fine for people of more limited abilities. Giant City Stone Fort Site is currently an abandoned pile of rocks that used to be a stone enclosure that was built around 600-900 AD. There are actually about 10 of these old structures in the area, and they are believed to have been either former military forts or ceremonial temples. Giant City State Park is located at 235 Giant City Rd, Makanda, IL. For more information, click here.

Rim Rock Recreation Area

The Rim Rock Recreation Area & Trail is located in Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois, if you haven’t already heard this area is a hotbed for outdoor adventure! To take advantage of this historic beauty, take Highway 34 to Karbers Ridge Road and turn East. Follow Karbers Ridge Road 8.3 miles to the Rim Rock entrance road. For more information, click here The Rim Rock area is broken up into two sections the Upper Trail and the Lower Trail. The Upper Trail is paved and is wheelchair accessible with assistance. The trail leads guests past the remnants of a Native American rock wall and offers stunning views of the valley below. About halfway through this trail you will find the staircase providing access to Rim Rock’s lower trail. This is a challenging hike, but its also very rewarding.

Millstone Bluffs

First off I need to warn you, this trail is not for the faint of heart. It’s an excruciating vertical hike. However, if you make it all the way to the top, it is quite a rewarding jot. To reach Millstone Bluffs in Southern Illinois take IL-145 to IL-147. In 1.4 miles look for the signage on the right for Millstone Bluffs. Continue for 0.3 miles to the parking lot and enjoy this rare glimpse into Native American History. The area is known as Millstone Bluff, and the trail offers a unique peak into a prehistoric Native American community offers more variety than any other archaeological dig in Southern Illinois. If a challenging hike isn’t what your looking for, you can still view the spectacular towering bluffs from the parking lot. This really is a sight to be seen as the bluffs stick out like a sore thumb from the surrounding flat terrain. For more information, click here.

Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park is located three miles south of Oregon, Illinois on Highway 2 located along the west bank of the Rock River in Ogle County. The park is spread out across 2,000 acres of rolling topography, and includes six miles of marked hiking trails, and a public boat ramp/parking facility is located across from the park’s main entrance. Castle Rock is named after a sandstone bluff, adjacent to the river, that offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding river valley.  The picnic area includes tables, shelters, grills, toilets, drinking water and playground equipment. The park is located at 1365 W. Castle Rd. Oregon Illinois For more information click here.

This Cute 2 Bedroom Bungalow Has Its Own Waterfall Swimming Oasis!

The Cliffs at Hocking Hills recently opened this charming two bedroom bungalow and its nothing short of amazing! This incredible Bungalow is located near the beautiful Hocking Hills State Park and just 45 minutes from Columbus OhioFor more information or to check prices and availability, click here.

Clad inside and out with cedar, large picture windows facing a mature forest view, a deck with a sunken hot tub, and decorated to the same caliber that you’ve seen in our original lodge at The Cliffs.

The bungalows are adjacent to the new Sandstone Falls and the nearly completed Overlook, which is an 800 square foot common area overlooking the falls.

Sitting above the falls is the newly constructed Lookout expected to open in the summer of 2023. The Lookout is an 800 square foot common building with restroom facilities where bungalow guests can take a break from the sun. It is also a great space for guests who have rented all of our bungalows to congregate for a meal. Sandstone Falls and The Lookout are available for all bungalow guests during their stay. At the current time three 2-bedroom bungalows are available, however there are plans to add additional bungalows in the coming years that will have access to these features as well.

For guests inclined to explore The Hocking Hills area there are numerous activities available. The Bungalow’s are just minutes from Cantwell Cliffs and not far from Rock House, Conkle’s Hollow, Old Man’s Cave, and Ash Cave. Many other activities like zip lining, mini golf, horse back riding, canoeing, and fishing are also available nearby.

The Bungalow’s are a perfect place to stay for a family vacation. This is one family vacation you will be talking about for years to come. To book your stay at this amazing bungalow, click here.

For more great lodging options in the area, click here. For the best parks and locations in the area, click here. For a list of nearby activities, click here.

This Epic Vacation Home Has It’s Own Private Lazy River!

The Lazy River Retreat Vacation Home is a place you need to see to believe! The Lazy River Retreat is located in Cypress Texas and is a dream come true for travel enthusiasts. For booking and availability, click here.

The Lazy River Retreat has over two acres of land and a 70,000 gallon pool with lazy river and swim-up bar! There is also a putting green,  stocked fishing pond, two fire pits, covered porches, a car port, covered patio, 43×46 party barn, and so much more!

This gorgeous vacation home can comfortably sleep 10 adults. The home has three bedrooms and four bathrooms with plenty of room for everyone to spread out!
Enjoy cooking in this GOURMET kitchen that includes Decor Appliances, granite counter tops, butcher block island, wine fridge, gas stove top, walk-in pantry, breakfast bar, and pot filler.
This property is perfect for entertaining a large group! Located in Cypress near restaurants and shopping, but still feels private!
Air-conditioned accommodations at this vacation home offer private pools and fireplaces. Rooms open to patios. Accommodations are furnished with dining tables and kitchen islands.

Bathrooms include shower/tub combinations. Smart televisions are featured in guestrooms. Additionally, rooms include coffee/tea makers and irons/ironing boards.

You will be hard pressed to find a more amazing vacation home, these amenities are just unmatched. The vacation home is located in Cypress. Tomball Museum Center and Lone Star Pinball Museum are cultural highlights, and some of the area’s activities can be experienced at Longwood Golf Club and Cypress Lakes Golf Club. Looking to enjoy an event or a game while in town? See what’s going on at Berry Center, or consider a night out at Sandlewood Manor.

For the best family activities in the area, click here. For the best nearby parks and amazing locations, click here. For more lodging and campgrounds in Texas, click here.

5 Illinois Parks That Are Perfect For A Little Adventure Volume 1

Ferne Clyffe State Park

Ferne Clyffe Falls is said to be the most visited waterfall in Illinois, and for good reason; you can actually walk behind this waterfall! This 2400 acre park has incredible geological features that people have taken notice of for at least the past 100 years.  To visit Ferne Clyffe State Park, drive south on IL-37 from Downtown Goreville. In just 2 minutes, you will arrive at the entrance to the park. For more information, click here.

Apple River Canyon State Park

Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. Apple River Canyon State Park is located at 8763 E. Canyon Road in Apple River Illinois. For more information, click here. My favorite activity to enjoy at Apple River Canyon State Park is hiking. The park has five named hiking trails, each varying in in length, and difficulty.  The park was established by the State of Illinois in 1932, and today consisting of 1,907 acres.

Cache River State Natural Area

The Cache River State Natural Area holds onto some of the highest quality aquatic and terrestrial natural communities remaining in Illinois. Wetlands within this area are so important to migratory waterfowl and shorebirds that in 1996 the Ramsar Convention collectively designated them a Wetland of International Importance, only the 19th wetland in the United States to receive the distinction. The site offers a wide array of recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing and seasonal hunting programs. For more information, click here.

Jackson Falls

Jackson Falls is one of the best waterfalls in all of Illinois.  During the 5 mile hike to get to the base of the falls, you can also see two other waterfalls, along a beautiful canyon. During the summer months, Jackson Falls is one of the most popular swimming holes in the state.  But what’s even more stunning is the rocks that surround this area. There are numerous sandstone bluffs and freestanding boulders. The area is also a popular place for rock climbing.  In fact, there are 60 climbing locations to choose from, each about 50-60 feet in height. Jackson Falls is located in Shawnee National Forest at Glen St Falls Rd, Simpson, IL 62985. For more information, click here.

Sylvan Island

Sylvan Island Recreational Park is located on the Mississippi River just off the shore of Moline Illinois. The Island is connected to the mainland and is accessible by a walking bridge! The park is a converted abandoned industrial site, that is still riddled with the remains of the long forgotten Sylvan Steel plant.  While lots of evidence of the plants existence still exists, nature is slowly devouring the remaining ruins. The park is located on 2nd street and 1st avenue in Moline. For years the Island sat abandoned, and was a popular spot for fishermen, and bird watchers. Now the island is officially open to the public, and is once again making a big impact in the community. Sylvan Island has a total acreage of 37 acres, with 1.24 miles of trails both circling the Island and winding throughout. The park is open daily, year round from 6 am until sunset. For more information, click here.

For more of the best parks and amazing locations in Illinois, click here. For the best lodging and campgrounds, click here. For nearby family activities, click here.

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