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Starved Rock named a top fall attraction

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[OCT. 5, 2004]  UTICA -- Starved Rock State Park in Utica has been named by MSN as one of the top 10 destinations in the United States for viewing fall foliage. MSN is an online service provider comprised of various Web pages and sites operated by Microsoft and its affiliates and visited by millions of Internet users daily. Starved Rock State Park, operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is a showcase of autumn color throughout October.

The international recognition of a natural wonder in Utica is a contrast to attention focused last spring when natural disaster struck Utica. Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Utica a state disaster area after a tornado caused extensive devastation and claimed eight lives.

Starved Rock shares the distinction of being named to the top 10 list, along with sites in New England, the Appalachians and the Pacific Northwest. Perched on the Illinois River bluffs, the park provides broad vistas of up to 10 miles to observe the scenery.

"People may not realize they can stay close to home and still see the most beautiful fall foliage in the world," said Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold. "In fact, the park is an ideal day trip, whether you live in Chicago, Peoria, Decatur or Rockford."

"It is an honor to be put on a list like this, and we expect even more visitors to the state because of it," said Jan Costner, tourism director. "As people make their fall travel plans, Illinois will be one of the places they want to visit."

In the coming weeks, the town located near Interstates 80 and 39 will host hundreds of thousands of tourists coming to enjoy the splendor of Mother Nature's autumn palette. Starved Rock State Park is located one mile south of Utica and midway between the cities of LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa. It is a 90-minute drive from Chicago, Peoria and Rockford.

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The park is etched with 13 miles of groomed trails along 18 canyons and river overlooks. Four miles of the park trails include sandstone bluffs on the south side of the Illinois River. Stairs provide easy access to some of the higher observation perches.

"There are 50 species of trees in the park. That means, throughout October, there's a constant variety of trees in full color," said Bill Wengelewski, Department of Natural Resources coordinator.

Naturalist-guided tours are available Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For more information, e-mail or call (815) 667-4726.

Fall foliage viewing information is available on MSN at

[News release]


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