UTICA, Ill. — Remember those 80-degree-days in March? And how the spring flowers were out a month early? Well, it’s no wonder that fall colors are bursting at Starved Rock State Park.
The rich green hues of summer are changing into golden hues of autumn. Sunny days, cool nights and recent rain have brought about the saturation of those vivid colors, so photo opportunities are abundant.
When it comes to the best leaf-peeping destinations, Starved Rock is known to be outstanding and this year is no exception.
“I think the colors are better this year than in the past three years,” Lodge CEO Terry Cross said. “The drought hasn’t hurt us at all.”
Spectators will see several varieties of trees, including pin oak, sugar maple, hickory and pine, which create an autumn canopy of color. Early morning fog rises up out of the river, creating an ephemeral affect.
Flocks of geese and pelicans can be seen along the river’s edge and bald eagles have been spotted along Dee Bennett Road and in the trees along Route 251.
The best drive in LaSalle County is along Route 71, heading east from the Lodge toward Ottawa.
The road curves along the Illinois River as the road cuts through the landscape of Starved Rock.
Within the park, the walk to Council Overhang is not to be missed with recommended sidetrips to see Ottawa, Kaskaskia and Illinois Canyons.
For the best view of large boulders, sand and canyon walls, head to St. Louis Canyon on the far west side of the park.
The panoramic view from the Lodge Veranda and Eagle Cliff are the best for a wide-angle look at most colorful season of the year.
On both Saturdays and Sundays, the Lodge now offers guided hikes to scenic LaSalle and Tonty Canyons. This is a lengthy, but beautiful, 4.5-mile round-trip-hike, which includes stops to see the great fall views from Lover’s Leap and Eagle Cliff. The hike also includes lunch and a souvenir backpack.
Fall colors Trolley Tours are offered every Monday and Saturday. Reservations are required. Call (815) 220-7386 to join the fun.
Fall Colors Weekend is set for Oct. 20-21. Free guided hikes will depart from the Starved Rock Visitor Center at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days. These hikes run from the Visitor Center to the top of Starved Rock and to French Canyon.
Park Superintendant Mark McConnaughhay reminds all park visitors to stay on marked trails to avoid injury to themselves and to the plant life at the park. Park in designated areas only. Overflow parking will be available during peak periods.