Our region has so many places to play and get away! Here are a few worth visiting this season.
Starved Rock Lodge: Embrace the Beauty of Winter
By Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek, Director of Marketing, Starved Rock Lodge
As New Year’s resolutions fall into the dusty pile of “To Dos,” there’s one that’s worth keeping. A trip to Starved Rock offers a unique experience for people of all ages.
Children and adults alike enjoy getting a glimpse of a frozen waterfall or bald eagles in flight. Snow-covered bluffs with expansive Illinois River views are best when seen from the top of Starved Rock, Lovers Leap or Eagle Cliff, three of the park’s most famous rock formations.
New in 2013, guided hikes will be offered every Saturday and Sunday, even in the winter. Led by expert guides from Starved Rock Lodge, the hikes are the safest and most expedient way to see the park from an insider’s point of view. Plus, most visitors tend to visit the canyons closest to the Lodge. This trip takes hikers on a 4.5-mile adventure to see LaSalle and Tonti canyons, plus extraordinary views from some of the most beautiful lookout points in the 2,600-acre park.
Also this year, the Lodge is sponsoring a photo contest, themed “In Touch with Your Natural Side,” which invites photographers to submit their best Starved Rock photos into one of five categories. Prizes will be awarded at a photo show scheduled for Feb. 24.
Ice climbing is allowed, when park officials declare the frozen waterfalls ready for the sport (climbers must be certified).
Climbers and hikers alike enjoy seeing frozen waterfalls, which form in frigid temps. Your camera will capture an amazing photo that displays nature at its best, but you’ll need a video camera to capture the sound of water trickling within this frozen work of natural art. If there’s measurable snowfall, cross-country skiing is offered at nearby Matthiessen State Park. Skis, boots and beginner lessons are available.
Winter’s big highlight is the Eagle Watch Weekend, set for Jan. 26-27, with its “Birds of Prey” show and hands-on exhibits. Throughout January and February, guests can join the Eagle Trolley Tours, which include lunch and a guided tour aboard a Starved Rock trolley, to see America’s symbol of strength. This is Starved Rock’s most popular winter tour.
In the quiet of winter, visitors can enjoy a giant fireplace in the Lodge’s Great Hall, and smaller fireplaces in several of the Lodge’s 13 cabins in the woods. Sometimes, the Great Hall’s fireplace is roaring, and other times, the red-hot embers just glow and cast a calming kind of warmth that fills the massive space.
A wide variety of special events are planned for the winter months, from interactive dinner theatre (Feb. 2) and musical tributes to drum circles (Jan. 20) and sled dog demonstrations (Jan. 13 and Feb. 3). Details and our full event calendar are available at www.starvedrocklodge.com.