Posted by: kerryl29 | June 19, 2017

Striking While the Iron’s Hot, Part II: Starved Rock State Park

After wrapping up at Matthiessen State Park, I made the short drive on IL-71 to the Owl Canyon parking area, the jumping off point for the hike to LaSalle Canyon in Starved Rock State Park.  The trail follows a staircase, with a lot of steps, from bluff level to river level, then takes an oftentimes muddy trail west along the Illinois River to the mouth of LaSalle Canyon.  From there it’s roughly a half mile to the head of the canyon where the LaSalle’s waterfall lies.

Waterfalls were my main focus while in Starved Rock on this day as the there had been several days of heavy rain in advance of my visit.  When there’s a lot of rain in north-central Illinois, the ephemeral waterfalls that flow through most of Starved Rock’s numerous sandstone canyons are at their most impressive.  As I followed the trail that traverses the east side of LaSalle Canyon, I reached a point where I could hear the waterfall before I could see it.  When I finally saw the fall, I was pleased as it represented as nice a flow as I’ve seen in my many visits to LaSalle Canyon.

My first view was also my first image after arriving in Starved Rock.

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

As you can see, the waterfall ultimately empties into the canyon’s reflecting pool.  That pool is drained by an outlet stream that ultimately empties directly into the Illinois River.  I decided to use the pool as the focal point for shooting down the canyon.

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

I spent most of the rest of the time I was in the canyon centering my attention on the waterfall itself.

LaSalle Canyon Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

It’s possible, with relatively little difficulty, to walk behind the waterfall, which I did, and photograph it from that perspective.  You simply have to dodge the many water droplets that drip that fall, seemingly randomly, from the overhang.

Behind the Falls, LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Behind the Falls Black & White, LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

There are also numerous spots from which to obtain cross-sectional views from both sides of the cataract itself (though I limited myself to the south side of the fall on this occasion).

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

From here, I continued on the trail to Tonti Canyon, which is actually a side canyon of LaSalle, located on the west side of the gorge, not far from the mouth.  The Tonti Canyon waterfall is a much longer drop than LaSalle’s, but nowhere near as wide.

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

For my money, Starved Rock is at its finest with fresh spring growth or in the fall, when the leaves turn.  And, in both cases, after a good hard rain.

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

After a particularly hard rain, a second ephemeral waterfall appears in Tonti Canyon.  It was in evidence on my visit, and you can probably see it, even in these small renditions of the images I captured that day, represented by the mid-ground splash pool visible in the shots below.

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Tonti Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

On the hike back to the Owl Canyon parking area, while still astride the Illinois River, I saw something out in the water that caused me to stop and pull out the telephoto lens.  It appeared that a sizable number of white pelicans were gathered out on the river and that was in fact the case.

White Pelicans, Illinois River, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

White Pelicans, Illinois River, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

After returning to my car I drove several miles east, to the parking area for Kaskaskia and Ottawa Canyons.  I often visit nearby Illinois Canyon–the easternmost canyon in the park–but it was a mud pit on this day so I eschewed it for time spent in Kaskaskia and Ottawa.  I checked out Ottawa first.

After examining several more conventional viewpoints I finally found a usable foreground, though it necessitated putting myself in an awkward position on the slope adjacent to one of the canyon’s walls.

Ottawa Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

On the way out I took one more shot, looking straight up the canyon toward the waterfall at its head.

Ottawa Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

I then made the short hike to Kaskaskia Canyon.  The waterfall here has always intrigued me, given the interesting set of logs that have resided for years right at the falls’ choke point, but I’d never taken a wider shot of Kaskaskia that included the waterfall…until this visit, when I used an aged, downed log lying on canyon detritus as foreground interest.

Kaskaskia Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

I then went with a more “normal” focal length, using the lush ferns growing on the left-hand wall of the canyon as part of a leading line.

Kaskaskia Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

It was late afternoon by the time I finished at Kaskaskia and I decided to call it a day as it would take roughly two hours to drive home.  No matter how often I return to Starved Rock, I almost always come away with a few images I’m pleased with–which is part of the reason why I keep coming back year after year.

To see more of my imagery from Matthiessen State Park, check out this gallery on my website.

To see more from Starved Rock, check out these galleries:  Illinois Canyon; LaSalle Canyon; other Starved Rock canyons

Next:  An introduction to my May trip to California:  Yosemite National Park, the Eastern Sierra and Redwood country on the northern coast

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Your familiarity with Starved Rock certainly pays off. The waterfalls are lovely, and I particularly like the last photo with the ferns.

  2. Beautiful spot to enjoy photography. If only I could hear the sounds that come with the images. Ha ha! Enjoyed your post. ❤

    • Thanks very much!

  3. Stunning natural beauty, expertly preserved for us to admire!

    • Thanks! Starved Rock can be an enchanting place when the conditions are just right. On this day, in addition the water flow, I was treated to perfect soft light in the form of bright overcast and very little wind. It was just about perfect.

  4. Really lovely. I’m especially taken with the first photo of Tonti Canyon. The strong, longitudinal lines are very appealing; the waterfall on the right, the sheer drop of the cliff on the left.

    • Thanks very much! I’m pretty happy with that image myself.

  5. Kerry, you are a master of waterfall photography. Each and every image is superbly composed and exposed. I love them all.

    • Thanks very much, Carol. It really helps to have visited a location many times before.

  6. An exquisite gallery with excellent processing and perfect use of polarizer. Well done. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Frank! Gotta have that polarizer on the lens when shooting around water. 🙂


Please feel free to comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: