Best Free Midwest Attractions: Illinois
Make sure you see the rock formations at Garden of the Gods and the steep ravines at Starved Rock.
Garden of the Gods, in southern Illinois, is a 3,300-acre national recreation area in Shawnee National Forest. Towering rock outcroppings (left) remain just south of where great ice sheets smoothed the prairies millions of years ago. An easy flagstone Observation Trail takes you to a spectacular overlook.
In northwest Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is home to 18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater and stream erosion. They slice through tree-covered sandstone bluffs for four miles at the park, which is along the south side of the Illinois River. Waterfalls, sandstone overhangs and other rock formations attract hikers and campers.