Dazzling display of colors coming to Starved Rock State Park
By Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek
Director of Marketing, Starved Rock Lodge
A road through the woods can be a spectacular and memorable scene in any season; but traveling down one in all its autumn opulence, aglow with sensational crimson and gold hues, is akin to entering a picture postcard.
Such a picturesque drive is but one option for viewing the magnificent fall colors on display throughout the month of October and into November in Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Ill. Among the historic preserve’s more than 2,600 acres of forest containing carved-out canyons and sandstone bluffs is a plentiful variety of trees offering a splendid array of autumn hues for the rider, bicyclist or hiker, as well, to enjoy.
“The park’s wide range of deciduous trees—including black, red and white oak varieties, red and white cedars, maples, hickories, and wild crab apple and plum trees—makes for some astonishing fall color combinations,” said Starved Rock State Park Superintendant Tom Levy. “Visitors to the park during autumn should expect high drama when it comes to colorful scenery.”
During the park’s 2010 “Fall Colors Weekend,” Oct. 16-17, free guided hikes to view the autumn spectacle will be conducted each day at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., departing from the park’s Visitor Center. Hikers opting for a self-guided tour can see a collage of colors presented through the generous variety of foliage from any number of scenic lookouts located within the park and sited along 13 miles of marked and mapped trails.
Visitors seeking a less vigorous experience than spirited hiking affords may explore the brilliant scenery via trolley. “Trolley Fall Colors Tours” will be offered Mondays and Saturdays in October from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In addition to a relaxing ride, tours will feature a hot buffet lunch in the rustic dining room of the landmark Starved Rock Lodge, and a guided walk to Council Overhang and Ottawa Canyon. Tickets are $27 for adults, $22 for children younger than 10.
A vivid view from the “Veranda,” an outdoor patio and café adjacent to the historic lodge and overlooking the stunning Illinois River Valley, is but another option for enjoying nature’s autumn glory. Splendid scenery can be seen, too, from a waterway. On Fridays during October, sightseers can enjoy a hot lunch buffet at the Lodge before boarding a trolley to the park’s Visitor Center and to nearby LaSalle for a serene, one-hour, mule-pulled canal boat ride conducted by interpreters dressed in 19th-century period costume. The tour will include a final stop at the Lock 16 Visitor Center. Tickets are $35 for adults, $30 for children 10 and younger.
Then, driving out of the park after a day of sightseeing, some lucky visitors might see a wild turkey or a deer on that wooded, colorful road through the woods!
In LaSalle County, Starved Rock State Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2011. For more information about park amenities, including Lodge accommodations, to order tickets or obtain directions, visit starvedrocklodge.com and starvedrockstatepark.org.
From the Oct. 13-19, 2010 issue
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