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  Castle Rock - State Park   

Northwest Region

1365 W. Castle Road
Oregon, IL 61061
Rock River Fall Scene
Area Future Development Park Map
Boating History Picnicking
Camping Hunting Surrounding Area
Directions Natural Features Trails
Fishing Nature Preserve  


Castle Rock State Park is located along the west bank of the Rock River in Ogle County, three miles south of Oregon, on Highway 2. The park is centrally located in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois, and its rolling topography is drained by the Rock River. The park is representative of the Rock River Hills area with rock formations, ravines and unique northern plant associations. A sandstone bluff, adjacent to the river, has given the park its name.

Walkway to rock bluff overlookHistory
Illinois tribes of native Americans inhabited the region until 1730 when the Sauk and the Fox tribes, who were being forced westward by the colonists, invaded and inhabited the region. The Native Americans called the river in the new territory "Sinnissippi," meaning "Rocky waters."

In the early 1800s the native Americans were again forced westward into Iowa. In 1831, Blackhawk, the Sauk chief, led his people in a series of raids back into Illinois to reclaim their ancestral lands. The battles that followed were known as the Blackhawk Indian wars. Chief Blackhawk was captured in 1832 and ordered to a reservation.

The Castle Rock area was settled by New Englanders early in the 19th century. This area was proposed as a state park in 1921 by the "Friends of Our Native Landscape," who acquired some of the land they described as "a unique wilderness remnant of great natural beauty and scientific interest." In 1964, the Natural Lands Institute, a non-profit natural lands preservation group, conducted a public fundraising campaign to preserve part of the Castle Rock area.

Castle Rock was recognized in Illinois as an outstanding area of major scientific importance in 1965. It was established as a project area, and land acquisition by the State started in 1970.

At the present time, Castle Rock consists of approximately 2,000 acres, 710 of which are designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The site was dedicated as a state park in 1978.

Shaded walkway to rock bluff overlookNatural Features and Nature Preserve

The basis for the acquisition of Castle Rock State Park is the protection of natural resouces unique to Illinois. A thin layer of glacial till covers this region and several distinctive plant species, remnants of the native forest and prairie, still exist. In one valley, 27 different types of ferns have been identified. The park is one of the largest significant natural areas in the northern part of Illinois.

Most of the outstanding natural features are located in the dedicated Nature Preserve which is protected by state law. Use of the 710-acre preserve is restricted to scientific study and limited interpretation activities.

The planned development of Castle Rock centers around the Nature Preserve. All development is limited by soil types. Soil types consist of silt loams and fine, sandy loams which are connected with the general high degree of slopes which limit use and development at Castle Rock. These soils are subject to severe erosion under heavy use.

Castle Rock is a large sandstone butte situated between the Rock River and Highway 2. The rock is made up of St. Peter sandstone. In only a few places in Illinois does St. Peter sandstone comes to the surface, even though it underlies practically the entire state.


Three picnic areas are available for use with shelters, picnic tables, playground equipment, grills, toilets and drinking water. Scattered picnic tables are also present along the river. One of the picnic areas offers a beautiful view over the Rock River Valley. Two of the park's shelters may be reserved for a fee (contact the site headquarters)..


There are 6 miles of marked hiking trails where hikers can view woodland animals and birds inhabiting the park and photographers can sharpen their skills. More trails are planned with the park's development. Cross-country skiing and tobogganing also are available when weather permits.

Fishing and Boating

Along the Rock River the park offers 1 1/2 miles of bank fishing. A boat ramp available for public use, where boat size is limited due to the varying depth of the river. The most commonly caught fish is the catfish, but some bass, northerns, walleye, and crappie may be taken.


Castle Rock does not have a campground except for a primitive camping area accessible only by canoe or boat.


Limited squirrel, turkey and deer hunting is available at the park. For more information, please contact the park office. Hunter Fact Sheet | Hunter Fact Sheet - Deer

Top of walkway to rock bluff overlookFuture Development

Projected development at Castle Rock includes more picnic areas and a campground. The development of the campground will be limited to keep the area in its natural setting and will also include primitive campsites.

More trails will be deveoped which will link various areas of the park, and signs will guide pedestrians through the park.


Castle Rock State Park is located on IL Hwy 2, 4 miles south of Oregon, IL., 12 miles north of Dixon, IL.

traveling west from the Chicago area on I-90 to Rockford. At Rockford take I-39 south 20 miles to IL Hwy 64. At Exit 104, turn right at Oregon exit, take Hwy 64 west to Oregon. Turn south on IL Hwy 2 for 4 miles to park.

If traveling west on I-88, take Exit 97 at I-39 at Rochelle. Take I-39 north 7 miles to Hwy 64. Go west on Hwy 64 for 15 miles to Oregon. Take IL Hwy 2 south to the park.

If traveling north on IL Hwy 26 south of Dixon, take Hwy 26 to Dixon. In Dixon, take IL Hwy 2 north 12 miles to the park.

If traveling east on I-88 west of Dixon, take the Dixon exit for IL Hwy 26 north. In Dixon, take IL Hwy 2 north 12 miles to the park.

  • While groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
  • At least one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
  • Pets must be kept on leashes at all times.
  • Actions by nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
  • We hope you enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
  • For more information on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
  • Telecommunication Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.

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