LASALLE COUNTY, Ill. — A flood thousands of years ago helped sculpt Starved Rock State Park into a masterpiece.

What was a small vacation resort until the early 1900s, is now an outdoor lover’s dream.

You can fish, bird-watch, camp and of course hike on 13 miles of trails which lead to some amazing places.

“When you put together all of the canyons and gullies and down by the river bank, it makes this place quite spectacular,” says Site Superintendent Kerry Novak. “Its a beautiful spot.”

There are plenty of lakes, streams and rivers here in central Illinois. But until you stand in a canyon like St. Louis canyon, you’re not going to see a waterfall.

Weather permitting you can see waterfalls in almost every one of the park’s 18 canyons. Park officials hope you’ll stay on the marked trails and not climb on the St. Peter Sandstone, but the temptation is too great for many.

There is plenty to do here even if you just want to relax. There are trolley tours and river boat tours. You can stay in a cabin or the historic lodge, which offers food in the dining hall, the lounge or out on the veranda. You could also go all out and have your wedding there.

You could easily spend days here, but if your time is limited, the lodge’s marketing director suggests doing these three things.

“My recommendation is to walk from the lodge to the top of Starved Rock and see the Illinois River valley,” says Marketing Director Kathy Casstevens. “Then go in and out of French Canyon, then experience the lodge itself for its historical and architectural wonder.”

To make your time outdoors more comfortable, don’t forget the water, sunscreen, bug spray and comfortable shoes.