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Buffalo Rock State Park (I & M)

Buffalo Rock State Park  

Northeast Region View of the Illinois river

P.O. Box 2034
1300 North 27th Road

Ottawa, IL 61350
815.433.2224

E-mail


Site Map I & M Canal Slide show
Camping History Trails
Directions Natural Features Wildlife
Effigy Tumuli Picnicking
     

Buffalo Rock State Park is located on a bluff which once was an island in the Illinois River. Now standing majestically on the north bank, this promontory affords a magnificent, sweeping view of the Illinois River. Located approximately 3 miles west of Ottawa in LaSalle County, this 298 acre park has long been a favorite picnic area, as well as a nature lovers delight. The area of Buffalo Rock was the home of the Illinois Indians when Louis Jolliet, the French explorer, and the Jesuit missionary priest Father Jacques Marquette made their trip up the Illinois River in 1673. Later the Illinois Tribe was virtually annihilated in protracted warfare with the aggressive Iroquois.

History

Buffalo Rock is said to have served the French as an early military, trading and missionary post. LaSalle and Tonty, after building Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock during the winter of 1882-1883, gathered almost 4,000 Indian warriors at the front of Buffalo Rock and formed a confederation against the Iroquois. Among the tribes in the confederation were the Miami who built their own fort on Buffalo Rock.

In more recent history, Buffalo Rock was used by a religious sect for camp meetings, and later as a site for a tuberculosis sanatorium. The Crane Company of Chicago purchased Buffalo Rock in 1912 and for a period of about 16 years maintained a sanatorium for sick employees and a summer vacation ground for thousands of employees and their families. In 1927 the Crane Company moved their recreation park to a larger area, donating the original site to the state to become a park. The deed to the property was turned over to the State of Illinois on November 15, 1928, with the provision that it would become a permanent state park and that the caretaker, Robert Barnett, who was then 72 years of age, be retained in that capacity for the remainder of his lifetime as a reward for his loyal services.

Natural Features

Airial view of Effigy TumuliTitled "Effigy Tumuli" in tribute to the Native American burial grounds that inspired it, this unique "earth art" depicts five sculptures native to the Illinois River. The Effigy Tumuli was the vision of artist Michael Heizer who created the sculptures of a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and a water strider. To better appreciate and understand the sculptures, it is best to look first from a distance and then walk around on top of them.

Picnicking

The picnic areas that are shaded by mature oak, hickory and walnut trees provide the perfect setting for a family picnic or special outdoor occasion. Picnic tables and cooking grills are provided. The site has two shelters with drinking water and restroom facilities are located near both. The larger of the two shelters has a large stone fireplace and may be reserved. The smaller shelter is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A playground area is located by the large shelter and a baseball diamond is near the center of the park. A great game of horseshoes also can be enjoyed during your visit.

buffaloBison

Two American bison call Buffalo Rock home. Their pen and grazing area is located across from the baseball diamond and these magniciant native mammals can be seen daily.

Trails

The River Bluff Trail offers a walk high above the Illinois River with two observation decks providing spectacular views of the Illinois River. The Woodland Trail provides an opportunity to examine and appreciate the trees, plants and wildlife prospering in the park.

I&M Canal State Trail Access

Across the road from Buffalo Rock State park is the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail Buffalo Rock Access area, providing parking for approximately seven vehicles. Water and restroom facilities are not available at this site.

Camping

 

Tthree primitive camping areas exist along the trail between Buffalo Rock and Utica for open camping. Each campsite has a fire ring but no water or restroom facilities are available. Sites are accessible by walk-in or bike-in only; no vehicular access is allowed. One of the camping areas designed for youth camping has a shelter with a fireplace. No campsites can be reserved.

Directions

From Ottawa: From Rte. 6 turn south on W.D. Boyce Memorial Dr. Continue on Boyce to Ottawa Ave. and turn right. Proceed on Ottawa Ave., which becomes Dee Bennett Rd for approximately three miles, the park is located on the left and the I&M Canal Access area is on the right.

From Utica: Take Dee Bennett Rd. east five miles to Buffalo Rock.

  • 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.

updated 10/26/10 ba

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