If you live in or around Illinois, you’re definitely going to want to add Matthiessen State Park to your bucket list. Living in central Illinois, I often get stuck in the mindset that there’s nothing to do. However, I’ve found that there are tons of fun activities within driving distance and one of my favorites so far has been a day trip to explore Matthiessen State Park. The park is located in Oglesby, IL and is just a few miles from the more renowned Starved Rock State Park. If you plan ahead and give yourself enough time, you can definitely hit both parks while you’re in the area. They also have cabins nearby if you want to spend more than a day exploring.
It’s a fairly decent hike to get down to the water, but once you get there, it’s well worth it. This place is so beautiful – the pictures don’t even come close to doing it justice. We went during the summer, but I’ve also heard that it’s absolutely beautiful to visit during the winter when the water is frozen and icicles are hanging from the rocks (although that may be a little more dangerous as it is somewhat difficult to access as it is).
The park was busy while we were there, but not overwhelmingly crowded and there was more than enough space for everyone to enjoy the park and views. At the bottom of the waterfall pictured below, there is a fairly large swimming hole where many visitors were cooling off from the hot summer sun. Kids and adults alike were having a blast climbing up the rocks and sliding back down under the waterfall.
The rock formations are so incredible and if you’re feeling adventurous, they can lead to some pretty amazing views. You can climb up behind the waterfall (I definitely slipped a time or two) and also into the cavernous openings along the sides of the rocks (see below). This place is full of lush green trees and plants and you can hear the streams of water running throughout the park. Matthiessen is a great place for a fun date or a family adventure with the kids.
I would definitely recommend wearing clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting wet and possibly ruining. We had to walk through several feet of water and got soaked climbing up the rocks to get to the waterfall (as you can see in the picture above with my boyfriend dramatically posing on a rock). I would also recommend bringing a backpack as well to bring drinks and snacks and a waterproof bag or ziploc to put your phone and/or camera in inside your backpack.
Matthiessen State Park
2500 Illinois Route 178
Oglesby, IL 61348
Open 7am – 8pm daily
Looking for other things to do in IL? Check out the Illinois Travel section of my blog.