The Illinois River Valley is one of Illinois's wild havens, kept wild both within Starved Rock State Park and outside the park; a different kind of wild than the neighboring parts of Illinois. In contrast to gentle prairies that spread out to a smooth horizon, the river valley is heavily forested and the state park is broken up by no less than 18 canyons.
Drive your houseboat not only along the main channel of the river, but into those canyons. The moss-grown walls are shaded by heavy forests and flow with waterfalls. The Illinois River Valley combines the geological richness of mountain and plateau with the lushness and variety of Mid-Western foliage. You may want to houseboat during the fall, just for the colors.
If you're of a fisherman's mindset, you'll find what can seem to be a daunting amount of Sauger, Striper, Walleye and Catfish, not to mention healthy Largemouth, Smallmouth, White and Striped Bass populations. Birders should keep an eye out for the flicker of Scarlet Tanagers and the dabble of Wood Ducks. Wildlife watchers will be thrilled to find evidence of beaver dams and can catch occasional glances of beavers at work.