Posted by: kerryl29 | December 3, 2018

A Park for All Seasons

Long-time readers of this blog have been exposed, irregularly, to extensive revelations about Starved Rock State Park.  Located in north-central Illinois, roughly 100 miles west of Chicago, the park is a real anomaly, given its geographic situation.  Amid the flat lands of northern Illinois, the sandstone canyon-filled park abuts the southern shore of the Illinois River.  I’ve visited Starved Rock numerous times in the spring, fall and even the summer, as the images immediately below attest:

St. Louis Canyon Waterfall, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

18 distinct canyons are located within the park’s boundaries, many of which host ephemeral waterfalls.  During the snow melt of early spring and at any time of year after a heavy rain, the waterfalls are at their most photogenic.

French Canyon Waterfall black & white, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Kaskaskia Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

The waterfalls are frequently non-existent from mid-summer into the fall, but occasionally a period of heavy rain will rectify the situation.

Ottawa Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Autumn’s Remains, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Tonti Canyon Waterfall, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

While the waterfalls are the main attraction, it’s not the only thing of photographic interest at Starved Rock–not by a long shot.

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Prairie Trillium, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Sand & Leaf Water Abstract, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

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

Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

The one thing I hadn’t done is make a trip to Starved Rock in winter…or, at the very least, in winter conditions.  Until this past week, that is.

Ellen K., one of my companions on this year’s photo excursion to Alaska, was in the Chicago area last week and had a free afternoon.  I offered to show her around Starved Rock, so we made the trip out there on Thursday.  Three days prior, a large snowstorm hit the Midwest and dumped a foot of wet, heavy snow on the Chicago area.  That storm had started with rain and, as the temperature dropped, changed to snow.  Starved Rock received less accumulation, but still got at least six inches.  The two days after the storm were very cold–with highs well below freezing–so the snow hadn’t melted.  But on the day we were there, the temperature had cleared the freezing mark and some melting was under way.

Part of the park was temporarily off-limits, so we confined our exploration to LaSalle Canyon and St. Louis Canyon.  (Given the limited amount of daylight this time of the year, we really only had time for the two canyons anyway.)

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

St. Louis Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

The waterfalls were running, given all the rain that had preceded the snowfall and the early stages of melting.  There would have been considerable flow, but much of the water was still frozen; the remnants of the not-yet completed autumn were on the canyon floors in the form of fallen leaves.  It made for an interesting clash of seasons.  The recent deep freeze produced copious icicles hanging from many of the canyon walls and lips.

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

St. Louis Canyon Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Footing was, on balance, fairly good.  The exception?  Spots where significant amounts of ice had accumulated and not yet thawed.

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

St. Louis Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

It was remarkable how different this very familiar location looked and felt; views I hadn’t known existed were revealed given the absence of the usual copious foliage.  And, of course, the ice and snow produced a singular atmosphere.

St. Louis Canyon Black & White, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

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

St. Louis Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

This first “winter” trip to Starved Rock is unlikely to be my last.

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Responses

  1. These are some beautiful photos! It’s always great to see new places that I need to add to my travel list!

    • Thanks very much! There’s another park–Matthiessen State Park, by name–that’s just a few minutes from Starved Rock and is also worth a visit, if you’re in the area. If you go to <a href="http://Thanks very much! There's another park–Matthiessen State Park, by name–that's just a few minutes from Starved Rock and is also worth a visit, if you're in the area. If you follow this link it will take you to a portal where you can view a broad number of images from both parks, if you’re so inclined.

  2. What a lovely place – I especially like the black and white photos of the snow and icicles. America has such awe inspiring parks doesn’t it

    • Thanks!

      There are many phenomenal parks in the United States; those that get 99% of the attention are part of the national park system. Starved Rock is a STATE park, and not well known at all outside this particular region of the U.S. While not as well-known (or–with some exceptions–as phenomenal) as national parks, there are well over 1000 state parks in the U.S. and my experience has been that most of them are well-worth exploring.

  3. Stunning photos! This makes me want to get out and shoot something – with my camera, of course! 🙂

    • Thanks very much!

  4. Gorgeous.

  5. Great images from a really lovely day at Starved Rock. I can’t wait to get my photos off the camera now that I am back home (and, guess what, I found 2 spare batteries in my bag that I had with me…I’m not as much of an unorganized bozo as I thought). Thanks again for making the drive out to the park.

    • Thanks for making the trip with me. (Too bad you didn’t know about those batteries on the day of the shoot. 🙂 )

  6. What a beautiful place! So glad you shared. Your photos are lovely.

    • Thanks very much!

  7. Beautifully captured! I particularly like the sand and leaf abstract.

    • Thanks very much! That’s a fairly old image (made about 10 years ago, I’d estimate). Illinois Canyon (where the image was made) contains a wealth of opportunities for intimates and close-ups.

  8. A fabulous area that you’ve captured so beautifully, Kerry. Thanks for letting us see it – and see it so artistically. 🙂

    • Thanks, Frank!

  9. Very interesting, and it was good to see the warmer season images for comparison.


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