Join Our Winter Getaway

to Starved Rock & Matthiessen State Parks (Utica, IL)

Next Trips: TBD

Previous Cost: $135 (plus expenses See Details)

Click here to request more info when it becomes available.

The best of winter hiking:

Frozen waterfalls … ice-fringed rivers ... deep canyons ...
soaring eagles ... snowy woods ... cozy lodging.

Discover these parks’ pristine beauty.

Enjoy spectacular scenery, great eagle-watching, rich history, and warm camaraderie... just 2 hours from the Northwest suburbs.

Our getaways fill quickly Register soon!

Our Hikes

Matthiessen State Park

We’ll begin this lovely hike at Matthiessen Lake’s breath-taking 35-foot icefall, glittering in morning sunlight. Then, we’ll follow an ice-fringed river through the mile-long sandstone canyon, passing caves, Giant’s Bathtub, 45-foot Cascade Falls, and Devil’s Paint Box. About 2 miles/2 hours

French & Wildcat Canyons

French Canyon is magical, with 50-foot sandstone cliffs surrounding a frozen cascade. Then, enjoy the pristine beauty of a wintry forest as we walk to Wildcat Canyon’s dramatic 80-foot icefall and 100-foot sandstone cliffs. We’ll look for soaring eagles as we head back along the scenic Illinois river. About 2 miles/2 hours

Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

This center provides a great (and warm) vantage point for watching eagles fish for breakfast below the dam and for boats passing through the locks. About .5 hour

Tonti and LaSalle Canyons

Oh, we love these canyons and waterfalls… Stand between two 60-foot icefalls in Tonti’s narrow canyon, and walk behind LaSalle Canyon’s 20-foot ice sculpture. This hike also takes us along a picturesque section of the Illinois River. About 2 miles/2 hours

St. Louis Canyon

This optional, peaceful hike "over the river and through the woods" takes us into an 80-foot canyon with a majestic icefall. About 1 mile/1.25 hours


Our Fun

Savor winter’s quiet beauty.

Day 1

10 am Meet at Matthiessen State Park (eat a hearty snack in the car)
10:15 — 12:15 Hike at Matthiessen
12:45 — 1:45 Warm up with lunch at the lodge
2:00 — 4:00 Hike to Wildcat & French Canyons from the lodge OR relax at the lodge
6:00 Dinner at Starved Rock lodge
After dinner: Free time: laugh with group games...warm up by the inviting fireplace...cozy-up in your room...relax your muscles with a dip in the pool.

Day 2

8 — 9:00 am Breakfast at your lodge, beginning at 8 am at Starved Rock Lodge and 6:30 am at Days Inn
9:15 — 9:30 Drive to the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center
9:30 - 10:00 Watch eagles during their active morning feeding time, and then learn fascinating history about the nearby I&M Canal
10:30 — 12:30 Hike along the Illinois River to Tonti and LaSalle Canyons
12:45 Lunch together at the lodge
2:00 — 3:30 Hike to St. Louis Canyon (optional)

Hike through lovely woodlands and along sparkling creeks.

Watch the magnificent eagles that winter here

Our Lodging

Be awed by spectacular icefalls and ...

...explore towering canyons.

Starved Rock Lodge

815-868-7625; Rt. 178 & 71, Utica, IL 61373

Our historic park lodge offers a crackling fire in the great-room fireplace, DVD players in each room & free DVD loans.

Your room, in the updated, roomy addition offer:

  • 2 queen beds
  • Single-serve coffee maker
  • Flatscreen TV and DVD player
  • Iron/board
  • Hair Dryer
  • Complimentary shampoo, conditioner & soap

"Thank you so much for another great escape! Always so much fun!" ~Sprinkle

Your registration covers:

  • Guided hikes with experienced leaders
  • Packet with area history and info, tips on dressing for winter hikes, and driving directions
  • Reservations and arrangements
  • Trip photos online
(Registration cost does not cover room or food.)

Our getaways fill quickly! Reserve your spot soon. Please review our Policies before registering.