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Visiting/Photographing Sunflowers at Matthiessen State Park, IL

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

There is no place like a field of Sunflowers. As far as the eye can see!

The sunflowers are back at Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby, IL! Every year a field of hundreds of sunflowers bloom for a few weeks and it's a sight you don't want to miss. Here are all the details you need to make your next trip to the sunflowers a success!

Sunflower Field at Sunset

Where: The sunflowers are located at Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby, IL. Make sure to use the river entrance. Enter at the river entrance (along Rt. 178) and follow the road straight back. There are multiple parking options in small lots, or you may be able to park along the side of the road if signage allows. Follow the posted signage to the sunflower field and do not take alternate routes.

How: Once you park, follow the posted signage to the sunflower field and do not take alternate routes. Remember to be considerate of others and do not trample the sunflowers. In addition, it is illegal to remove sunflowers from the park and picking them will result in a fine.

When: Time is limited! We have noted July 10 as the first day that the sunflowers are in full bloom, and they normally last for about 2-3 weeks from the initial date. So, we highly recommend visiting before July 23 to maximize your chances of seeing them in full bloom. It's possible they will dissipate before or after our 2 week predicted window, but we believe that is a good general rule to follow when planning a visit.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. People come from across the Midwest to see the sunflowers, so it may be crowded at times. We recommend visiting in the morning on a weekday for the lowest foot traffic. Official park rules can be found at the Illinois Department of Resources page (click here).

Photography Tips: The best time to arrive will vary depending on the type of photos you are taking.

If you're shooting photos with people in them, then we recommend mid-day or before sunset. This helps keep the lighting balanced and results in less harsh dark lines on skin.

If you're just photographing the flowers by themselves, then sunrise or sunset will give dramatic lighting that will be sure to make your photos pop.

At sunrise or sunset a camera with good dynamic range will be needed to capture the brightest and darkest parts of the image.

If you're using an iPhone, try clicking on different parts of the image before taking your photo to adjust the exposure. If you're using a professional camera, then you may need to perform a process commonly referred to as image stacking to stack multiple photos with different exposure levels. Read more about this here.

We hope these tips help you enjoy the sunflowers and have a great experience! We look forward to seeing the images that you capture of the sunflowers.

Questions? Feel free to contact us via the form on our Newsroom page and we'll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.

Waterfall Flow Reporting

As a reminder, we are asking every person who hikes to a waterfall this summer to submit a waterfall flow rate report on our website at This takes less than 60 seconds and can be completed for all the major waterfalls within Starved Rock State Park. You can also attach photos/video clips of the waterfall.

Don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtag #starvedrockhikers when sharing all your spring hiking adventures! We’ll also do our best to keep hikers informed via our Hikers group on Facebook. Click here to join for free!

See you on the trails.

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Every time you purchase a product from Starved Rock Hikers, you are also helping the park. A portion of our annual proceeds are donated to the Starved Rock Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Starved Rock & Matthiessen through educational programs, guided hikes, exhibit updates, and more.

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