In 2015, 2.5 million guests visited Starved Rock State Park, but in the cold of January, my dad and I only saw one other hiker.

One of the reasons so many people come toIMG_0890 Starved Rock is the unique geography. The park holds 13 miles of trails and 18 canyons. Waterfalls and, in the winter, icefalls, are found in 14 of the canyons.

Some of the many activities at Starved Rock are hiking, horseback riding, boating, bird watching, camping, hunting and fishing. Hiking along the ridge, my dad suddenly stopped in his tracks ahead of me. I looked up as he pointed, and a bald eagle glided past us. Before we returned to the car, the same eagle flew past us four times.

We finished our hike at Ottawa canyon, and we decided to explore the canyon before heading home. Walking in, we greeted the first human of the morning. Cliffs towered over us, and we walked over a frozen stream to continue further. At the back of the canyon, we found the source of the stream. A frozen waterfall dripped onto a pile of ice as tall as me. I climbed onto the pile and discovered the middle to be hollowed from the constant dripping.

As we left, my dad turned to me. “These last five minutes are the most depressing part of the hike,” he said.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because it’s the end.”IMG_0897