Week days in the Starved Rock area

Well, it was a busy Memorial Day weekend here at the Brightwood Inn and the Starved Rock area in general. Once again they had to halt traffic to the parks because they were too full. The trails were choked with people, trash was over flowing the garbage cans and our guests reported they saw people were carving into the trees off the trails. People were wandering off the trails and one guy fell 40 feet in one of the canyons. It’s reported that he’s in good condition now. Conservation officers handed out 76 tickets. Things were pretty chaotic in the Village of North Utica. It was estimated that there were 96,000 people here over the weekend!! I gotta say, all the good press Starved Rock has been getting has it’s down side. I’ll be honest with you, I try not to leave the property on the weekends so that I don’t have to deal with the chaos.

But, when the week days come, things slow down quite nicely. There is a little more solitude to hiking the trails and it’s so much quieter. You can actually hear the birds, not other peoples conversations. Restaurants are less crowded, traffic is a breeze. The only thing is, once in a great while, you might get stuck behind one of the local farmers tractors, but don’t worry, it’s not for long. Everything is so much more relaxing here on the weekdays.  

So if that isn’t enough encouragement to get to come to the Starved Rock area (and preferably the Brightwood Inn) on the weekdays, we have our “Save Big Bucks” deal. Do you have the ability to stay two nights?  If you answered yes then we have a deal for you.   Stay 2 nights in Door County or Turkey Run and weโ€™ll give you $15 off per night.  Stay 2 nights in Mackinac or Sequoia and get $25 off per night.  Stay 2 nights in Vieux Carre, Tortola or Mallory Square and get $35 off per night.  Stay in the Aspen Suite and get $40 off per night. Now this is only valid for check in Sunday thru Wednesday.

So if you really want to relax AND save money, take a couple of days off and come to the Brightwood Inn during the week.

There is a reason that our motto is “Relax and enjoy”. ๐Ÿ™‚


Ottawa River Fest, 8-1 through 8-7


Well it’s that time of year once again! Starting Monday August first and going through Sunday August seventh, Ottawa is having their River fest in Downtown Ottawa Illinois. Besides the usual carnival, music and beer gardens, this year they are also having a “Taste of Ottawa” fair. ย Admission is only $2.00 per person and children are free! As always, please check out there web site for a full list of all the activities. ย There is A LOT of things going on and they have a great calendar of events, list of vendors and and all the live entertainment that will be going on! ย The Brightwood Inn is only 12 minutes from downtown Ottawa, so we are a quiet place to stay in the country when you want to get away form all the noise. ย A full hot breakfast always awaits you every morning as well.

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Spring Time at the Brightwood Inn

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Well, Spring has finally sprung on us and I don’t know about you, but we could not be happier! Most of the migratory birds are back now, all we are waiting for are the Barn Swallows and the Hummingbirds. ย I even saw some purple Martins the other day, which I thought was a bit early, but they do tend to come earlier and leave a little latter than the Swallows. The House finches tend to leave us in the most harsh winter months, but they came back about a month ago, however the Golden Finches just came back the other day, as bright yellow as you have seen! ย We have a very large population of Blue Birds this year and most of them have taken up residency in our houses already. Our Brown Thrasher has returned again this year but we have yet to see our Mocking Bird or our Cat Bird. So, like I said, we are just waiting on our Hummers and Barn Swallows.




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Frozen Waterfalls

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With some good rains and freezing temperatures, the frozen waterfalls at Starved Rock are looking very nice this year!

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Each Canyon having it’s own different look and feel. ย It’s really quite something to see up close.

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If Cabin fever has got the best of you, this sure is a good remedy for that.

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Come and take your own pictures, create your own memories.

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And then come back to the Brightwood Inn and warm up next to your own fireplace, relax after a long day of hiking in your hot tub and most of all, re connect with your loved ones. ย Make your reservations today!

Fall 2015

So far the fall of 2016 has been above average temperatures and way below average precipitation.ย  Thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Patricia we are experiencing a little relief in the precipitation department.ย  Temperatures still look to be above average in the 10 day forecast.ย  We’ve only had one bout with freezing temperatures so far.ย  Two weekends ago we got a freeze advisory, so we went out and covered up the garden really good. The temperature got down to 29 degrees and unfortunately most of hard work was in vain. Our garden really took it on the chin killing ninety percent of the plants.ย  The good news is that our efforts did help keep all the fruit and vegetables form freezing, so that we can still harvest them. One thing I found interesting was that the morning glory on the back patio, which is normally a very temperature sensitive plant, remains virtually unscathed from the event.ย  All I can think of is that it was on a more protected side of the Inn.


The ten day forecast still looks very good, I don’t know about you, but I could take this kind of weather all winter long.ย  So there are still flowers blooming all over the Inn and the fall colors are still going strong. Personally, Fall is my favorite season.ย  The crisp air, the smell of the leaves and maybe a distant campfire. It’s just a little chilly outside but nothing a nice little hike won’t warm you up fast.ย  A time when you can enjoy a campfire outside with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Regular or adult version ๐Ÿ˜‰

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These are some pictures I took just yesterday out around the Inn and with weather like what we’ve been having, I don’t see it changing till farther in the future! Relax and Enjoy at the Brightwood Inn!

Uptown Grill and August Hill Winery

If you need another good reason to stay at the Brightwood Inn, I’ve got two for you!ย  We’ve had for awhile now tickets to getย  free tastings at August Hill winery, but now we also have tickets to get a free appetizer at the Uptown Grill!

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So after you check into the Brightwood Inn and get your tickets, you can cruise up the road to August Hill and get a free wine tasting plus 10% off most anything you can purchase there. They have a beautiful back patio that you can enjoy a glass of one of their many award winning wines on and they also just added on with another beautiful room that they call the lounge.ย  Everything August Hill does is always First Class!


Then after you are done there, you can head on over to the Uptown Grill for a wonderful dinner.ย  They have an extensive menu with a lot of wonderful food to choose from. There you can get a free appetizer (up to $10.00 value!) with the purchase of and entree or sandwich. The Uptown Grill is another classy place where you can always expect great service and great food.

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Then when you are all done, you return to the Brightwood Inn, where you can sit outside for awhile and enjoy the peace and quite amid the beauty of nature. Listen to a chorus of Katydids and tree frogs serenade you while looking at the stars.ย  Then finally return to your room where maybe a relaxing hot tub awaits you, or maybe just a big ultra comfortable bed is waiting to embrace you and rock you to sleep.


Then in the morning, a full complementary breakfast awaits for you.ย  Our breakfasts are made from scratch and made with wholesome ingredients.ย  And when we can, we even use ingredients straight from our own garden!


Then after being fully nourished, it’s time to hit the trails at one of the most visited state parks in the country! Starved Rock State Park.


It’s all waiting for you here at the Brightwood Inn!!ย  Give us a call or reserve on line today!


At the Brightwood Inn we have 14 acres of land. ย The front 2.5 acres are designated for our Aronia bushes and starting next year we will apply for an Organic license. ย That means that for the past 5 years there have been no pesticides used on our property. ย Everything that we grow, we grow in a sustainable way. ย Now tie that in with the fact that we are surrounded on three sides by Matthiessen State Park and you could see why the Brightwood Inn is the perfect place to grab your Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (or you can borrow ours) and look for many different species of Butterflies.ย GST 1ย  In this picture we have a Giant Swallowtail on a milkweed plant in our backyard. ย On a side note, we don’t consider Milkweed a weed at the Brightwood Inn. ย Anywhere it wants to grow, we let it. ย Milkweed is danger of being eradicated because of all the harmful pesticides being sprayed by our agriculture system and milkweed is a valuable part of our ecosystem. ย If it is eradicated, other species will fall, especially many species of butterflies.GST 3ย  But I digress, so back to the Giant Swallowtail. ย Now it’s hard to judge the size of this butterfly from this picture, so I want you to hold out your hand flat and look at it. ย These butterflies are slightly larger than that.GST 2ย  We also have a couple of other Swallowtails around here. ย We have the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Eastern Black Swallowtail. ย Neither are as large as the Giant, but equally pretty.

We also get a lot of Monarchs and or Viceroys out here as well. ย Monarchs are one of the Butterflies that are dependent on the milkweed plant for reproduction. ย So not only do we let the wild milkweed grow where we can, we will also be planting a milkweed patch in our acreage somewhere next year.ย monarchย visitย http://makewayformonarchs.org/i/archives/598 for more information on the decline of Monarchs in this country.

Stay close to our Blog as we will be posting more pictures and information on the Butterflies of the Brightwood Inn!!

Memorial Day Weekend is Coming!!!

Only two rooms left for two days or more.ย  Otherwise there are a couple for Friday only and Sunday only.ย  Looks like decent weather to kick start the summer.ย  It was a long brutal winter, time to get outside soak up some vitamin D and breathe that fresh beautiful unfrozen air.ย  Let me think of some outside things you could do….. Hike, Bike (on the canal or Mountain Biking), Canoe, Skydive, Zip Line, Horseback ride… and the list goes on and on. We are just two minutes from Starved Rock State Park and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, plus we are surrounded on three sides by Matthiessen State Park.ย  Matthiessen is one the lesser known state parks in the area but is equally as beautiful.ย  You can hike inside the canyons and see the waterfalls or you can hike the bluff and look down on it all.ย  Either way, it is quite beautiful.ย  And after a a nice day of being outdoors, you can rest up in one of our beautiful rooms and get ready to go out for dinner in one of the many restaurants close by.ย  We have a wide range of restaurants for you to choose from, we have a a couple of lists here at the Inn and a basket full of their menus, so that when you check in, you can peruse the different menu’s until you find something that you both can decide on.ย  We also have directions to them all as well.ย  If you feel like staying in, there is a Pizza place and a sandwich shop that delivers out here!

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And during Memorial day weekend, everyone at the Bightwood Inn would like to take a moment and think of those who gave everything so that we may live in this country with the freedom that everyone deserves!

Eagle Watch Weekend

Bald Eagle watch weekend is January 24th and 25th.ย  We hear that Starved Rock Lodge is sold out but we still have a few rooms and Starved Rock is only a few minutes away.ย  Here are the activities for that weekend.


Bald Eagle Watch Weekend is set ย for Saturday & Sunday, ย January 24 & 25, 2015!ย 

Starved Rock Trolleys will be running all weekend. Unlimited ride wristbands are just $1 per person and may be purchased upon boarding.ย 

Raptor Programs plus Falcon and ย Osprey Programsย have been planned! A variety ofย ย events will take place at Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Visitor Center and the IL Waterway Visitor Center. On the day of the show, tickets for raptor shows will be available (at no charge) beginning at 8:00 am at Starved Rock Lodge and 9:00 am at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. ย Advanced tickets will be available for purchase, on-line for $3 each starting January 1 at www.illinoisaudubon.org. Click here for advanced tickets.

Childrenโ€™s Activities, Educational Exhibits and Eagle Viewing available at all facilities throughout the weekend. The Starved Rock Trolley Shuttles will run both days with stops at Starved Rock Lodge, the Starved Rock Visitor Center and the IL Waterway Visitor Center. Wristband are $1 per person per day.


2015 Bald Eagle Watch Program Schedule
(Saturday, January 24 & Sunday, January 25)

8am Starved Rock Lodge Tickets for day of show available
9am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Tickets for day of show available
10am Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room โ€œBirds of Preyโ€ presented by ย Illinois Raptor Center
10am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center John James Audubon presents โ€œThe Washington Eagle โ€“and other raptors I have knownโ€ as portrayed by Brian โ€œFoxโ€ Ellis
10am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Native American Dancer
11am Starved Rock Lodge, LaSalle Room Illinois Department of Natural Resources Osprey Release Project
11am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Wildlife Photography โ€” Eagles by Chris Young
Noon Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Native American Dancer
1pm Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room โ€œBirds of Preyโ€ presented byย  Illinois Raptor Center
1 pm Illinois Waterway Visitor Center John James Audubon presents โ€œThe Washington Eagle โ€“and other raptors I have knownโ€ as portrayed by Brian โ€œFoxโ€ Ellis
1pm Starved Rock Lodge, LaSalle Room Stories from the River Valley, special guest storyteller Steve Seaborn
2pm Illinois Department of Natural Resources Visitor Center, Kaskaskia Room The Art & History of Falconry with Rich Escutia
2pm Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Native American Dancer
3 pm Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room โ€œBirds of Preyโ€ presented byย  Illinois Raptor Center
3pm Illinois Waterway Visitor Center John James Audubon presents โ€œThe Washington Eagle โ€“and other raptors I have knownโ€ as portrayed by Brian โ€œFoxโ€ Ellis
4:30pm Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room (note: Saturday only) Youth Owl Calling Contest (note: Saturday only)

Cross Country Skiing

We had a beautiful 5 and a half inches of snow the other day.ย  A beautiful white powder that is just perfect for cross country skiing.ย  A little known fact for our area, Matthiessen State Park not only hasย  six miles of cross country skiing trails but they also rent cross country skis.ย  http://www.a1trails.com/xc_ski/il/il8.html

022It really is fun and exhilarating to be shushing through the beautiful trails, surrounded by nature, peace and quiet.ย  Fresh air and exercise will do the body and mind good!ย  The temperatures are suppose to rebound for this weekend into the 20’s, the winds are suppose to die down and I think that is some perfect cross country skiing weather!


baldeaglefreebirdpicturIf your not up for the skiing, the Bald Eagles are back in force.ย  I see them every year and I can’t get enough of them.ย  They are so grand and majestic.ย  I sure am glad the Benjamin Franklin didn’t get his way and that our national bird is not the Turkey.ย  Now we have Wild Turkeys in the area as well and they are fun to watch too but as for a national symbol… I’ll take the Bald Eagle, hands down.ย  We also have some Eagle nests in the area that we can point out to you.ย  If you’ve never seen one, it’s truly something!ย  They are so big, I think two humans could crawl up inside it and be quite comfortable.ย  I am not exaggerating.

ice falls 034And as always, just going for a hike in a winter wonderland is just fun as well.ย  I can’t update you on the waterfall situation, I haven’t been myself yet and none of our guests have reported back to me but I’m sure the bluffs and all this snow look beautiful right now and with these temperatures, the snow ain’t goin nowhere, anytime soon!


So whether your here for some skiing, birding or just hiking, our Starved Rock Lodging is perfect for you.ย  All our rooms have fireplaces, some have hot tubs and all have great views!ย  We are just 2 minutes from skiing and four minutes from the Eagles.ย  Stay Warm Everyone!!