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Explore the rugged terrain of Matthiessen State Park, where you'll find a plethora of natural wonders waiting to be discovered.

Hike through the Matthiessen's 5 miles of winding trails and discover cascading waterfalls, breathtaking rock formations, and panoramic views of the Vermillion River. Traverse through the park's canyons and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of exposed sandstone and mineral springs.

As you wander through the park, be prepared to encounter an abundance of unique wildlife. Keep an eye out for hawks soaring overhead, rock doves perched on rocky outcrops, and frogs croaking in the streams. The park's dense underbrush is also home to a variety of flora, including huckleberry bushes and chickadees flitting through the trees.

Finally, don't miss the opportunity to explore the remnants of an old fort, an exciting reminder of the park's rich history. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the wilds of Matthiessen State Park.


The park boasts an array of spectacular sights to see, including the majestic Lake Falls, the awe-inspiring Giant's Bathtub, the picturesque Cascade Falls, the vibrant Devil's Paintbox, the rugged Strawberry Rock, and the serene Matthiessen Lake.


Matthiessen Lake Trail


Cascade Falls


Upper Dells


Giant's Bathtub


Lake Falls


Lake Falls

Adventure awaits as you hike through the park's winding trails, with popular trails such as the Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail, the River Trail, the Dells Area to Vermillion and the Interior Canyon Trail leading the way. Each trail offers a unique perspective of the park's natural beauty, with an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking scenery.

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Dells Canyon and Bluff

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Dells Area to Vermillion


Interior Canyon

For those looking for a different kind of adventure, Matthiessen State Park also offers hunting, field archery range, model airplane field, sunflower field and 6 miles of cross country skiing (in winter) and 9 miles of mountain bike/horseback riding trails (in summer).


Embark on an adventure through the wilds of Matthiessen State Park, a wilderness paradise named after the pioneering Frederick Matthiessen, a prominent figure from LaSalle, Illinois. This park was once a private property owned by Matthiessen himself, but after his passing, it was turned into an Illinois State Park in 1943.

Step back in time and uncover the rich history of the park, dating back to 1943 when it officially became an Illinois State Park. Since then, the park has grown from 176 to a sprawling 1,938 acres, making it a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

Many locals still refer to the park as "Deer Park" due to the abundance of deer that call it home. These majestic creatures are attracted to the salt licks in the park's Mineral Springs, making it a prime spot for wildlife viewing.


Take in the natural beauty of Deer Park, with its picturesque landscapes, rugged terrain and diverse wildlife. As you hike through the park's winding trails, keep an eye out for the deer grazing in the meadows, and the salt lick that attracts them.

  • Is there an entry fee?
    No, all state parks in Illinois (with the exception of beaches) are free!
  • How difficult are the hiking trails?
    There are trails for every skill level. Check out our “find a hike” page, to find the perfect trail for you!
  • What are the park’s hours?
    All parking lots and trails open at sunrise and close at sunset. Park is open every day of the year unless otherwise stated.
  • Are dogs allowed?
    Yes, dogs must be on a leash at all times.
  • Is swimming allowed?
    No swimming is allowed at any of the parks, in the canyons, or in the waterfalls. There is an indoor pool for registered guests at the Starved Rock Lodge.
  • What is the parking situation?
    Parking is a first-come, first-serve basis. There are parking lots located at the Starved Rock Visitor Center, a few of the trailheads, the Lodge, and overflow lots. There is no parking or entry fee to any of the parks.
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