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Matthiessen State Park, Utica

4.7
Matthiessen State Park is an Illinois state park located a few miles south of the more famous Starved Rock State Park. The main entrances to both parks are located on Illinois State Route 178.
The park is near Oglesby, in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States. It is named for Frederick William Matthiessen, who had originally owned the of property that is at the core of the current park. Two mansions, several cottages, a garage, and a private fire station were built here by Matthiessen for his family. It was an estate that hosted a private park known as "Deer Park". The park was donated to Illinois by Matthiessen's heirs, following his death in 1918, and was renamed in his honor in 1943. Since then, land was added, growing the park to. The last building of the former estate was destroyed in 1981, although some of the concrete stairs leading into the canyon are of the original construction.
The park is centered on a stream that flows from Matthiessen Lake to the Vermilion River. The stream has eroded partway through the sandstone layers, leaving interesting rock formations and drops. The Upper Dells begin at Matthiessen Lake with the Lake Falls, which drop into the canyon below, and continue downstream to the 45ft Cascade Falls where the Lower Dells begin. The interesting coloration of many of the canyons is the result of minerals in the groundwater. Many mineral springs exist throughout the park, providing salt lick spots for the large deer population.
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Matthiessen State Park Reviews

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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
486 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Plan was to do starved rock, but it was at capacity by the time we got there (about 9:45/10a) didn’t want to waste the drive out and this was the 1st spot that while busy had reasonably distance from....  more »
  • Was my first visit here today with friends-perfect weather, beautiful park. Muddy in parts and I'm at an age where I'm not super comfortable with my balance fording streams but a few wet feet and...  more »
Google
  • I LOVE this place! I've been here many times over the past few years. It's beautiful in all seasons. The waterfalls are especially stunning in the spring after/as the snow melts. I adore Matthiessen and would have gotten married here had I not moved away. Genuinely one of my top three places in the whole state. 💖💖💖
  • This place is simply amazing!! Very relaxing and quiet. Be aware that the trails might be little slippery after rain. Totally worth the trip from Chicago. Highly recommend. You won't be disappointed.

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Side trips from Utica

4.9
Duration: 1h 30 min