Matthiessen State Park
Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for a special outing.
We love this park! Great, feature rich trails and canyons. Bring your water shoes and go slogging though the upper and lower dell streams. "Accidentally" fall into giants bathtub" or take a quick rinse off under one of the many waterfalls. Pack a lunch, great way to spend the day.
Must go spot for a very good trail, river and nice falls. Dells is where you can see the falls. You can spend entire day at this place. Parking is limited. But you can park in extended parking spaces. Take your own food. You won't find any restaurants near by. Good place for camping and hiking.
The waterfall is more than beautiful and a great experience but there really needs to be an attendant there to make sure people are not bringing plastic bottles or beer bottles down by the lower dells part. My daughter almost cut her foot not once but twice on broken beer bottles. Luckily I was paying close attention to the ground because of the teenagers and young adults who were treating the space as their own personal rave spot. And some were even climbing the rocks so I'm seeing serious injuries in the near future. The waterfall lake part was filled with 20 floating plastic bottles as well. Other than that if u keep your eyes peeled and ignore the kids it was actually an amazing place.
This is a great alternative to the widely-known Starved Rock park, just a mile up the road. We love this place because you can walk through the river deep down in the canyons and bask in multiple water falls. Not the best place for someone who has difficulty with stairs because it is a steep walk down and up again.
Matthiessen State Park is Starved Rock's little sister. Just down the road, I suspect most visitors to Matthiessen come after visiting the larger and more famous sibling. Matthiessen suffers from the same draw backs as Starved Rock as well - it is usually way to crowded! If you looking for a nice quiet day hike in nature with a minimum amount of interference by other human beings, this is not the place to go. Especially in the warmer months. My suggestion for either park is to visit on a week day in Winter. About the only time you can hope to enjoy the park in peace. Matthiessen does have some beautiful "dells" formations, basically high cliffs or canyons that follow to course of a shallow creek. Unfortunately, the man made infrastructure that dots the park, though helping with accessibility, takes away from the parks natural beauty.