On To Icy Ottawa Canyon

Ottawa Canyon in Winter

One of the more accessible canyons in Starved Rock State Park, Ottawa Canyon is less than a half mile hike from the parking area. It's also an easy hike very few hills and only a few stairs, so one can expect a lot more visitors - especially on a day as cold as this (5 degrees Fahrenheit). Usually I'm alone in the canyons when it's so cold, except for an ice climber here and there. As we expected, the waterfall in the canyon was a complete column of ice, towering about 50 feet high to the creek above the canyon.
Ottawa Canyon Ice 
 The canyon is undercut, just like it's sister canyon the Council Overhang just a few hundred meters away. This not only allows hiking behind the falls, but creates a very interesting surround of multicolored rock. Unlike quite a few waterfalls in the park where you need to bend down to get behind the falls, this overhang is very tall, giving a feeling of grandeur to the icefall.

Climbing The Ottawa Icefall

As we entered the canyon, we could see an ice climber near the top of the frozen waterfall. Ice climbing is allowed in a few of the canyons, by permit only. It seems to be a growing sport here at Starved Rock - at least anecdotally; I see more and more ice climbers every year. They're interesting to watch, but can often break off the intricate detailed ice that make the icefalls so pretty. I've been lucky over the years, to capture the icefalls before they're damaged. But give the waterfalls a day or two and they often form new intricate patterns on the face of the icefalls.

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