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™‚


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!

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!

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!!

Transition To Spring

We heard that the snow melt was making some really beautiful waterfalls, so we thought we’d go for a hike and see for ourselves.ย  First we tried to go to Illinois canyon but unfortunately had to turn around half way there due spring falls 005 spring falls 010 spring falls 011 spring falls 014 spring falls 019 spring falls 015 spring falls 022 spring falls 024 spring falls 025to a large amount of standing water.ย  If only we had thought to bring our muck boots that fit over our normal boots, we would have been able to hike anywhere we wanted.ย  Sure we could have gone home and got them and came back, but the car was low on gas and we had to be back by a certain time and….ย  well, I digress.ย  So we simply headed off to the council overhang and the Kaskaskia and Ottawa canyons.ย  The trails were a bit slick, you needed hiking boots with good tread.ย  There was about an inch or so of slush on top of snow packed trails.ย  We think the slush actually helped out a bit by letting the tread of our boots sink in.ย  Fast moving waterfalls means the creeks were up and running which meant that the trail that meanders back and forth over the creek was flooded out here and there.ย  But we persisted, we said “we made it this far, let’s keep going!”, and so we did.ย  Spotting downed trees and areas we could ford the creek we got to see two really beautiful waterfalls.ย  The hike was exhilarating and the payoff was huge!ย  The smell of spring in the air, the sound of rushing water and the sun glinting off the water as it fell, did our hearts a world of good.ย  Having already picked our way there, coming back was easy.ย  Plus I figured if my boots got wet on the way back, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but they didn’t.ย  We got back with a little mud on our boots, but no less for wear.ย  The sun wasn’t in the perfect position for great pictures, but these will give you an idea of what you’ll see if you’re ever near Starved Rock State Park.

Happy Hiking Everyone!