fun of outdoor adventure at Starved Rock State Park. Whether you
enjoy hiking along the nature trails or viewing the many spectacular
overlooks along the Illinois River, recreational opportunities abound.
From picnicking to fishing to boating, from horseback riding to
camping to enjoying winter sports, theres so much to do that
youll come back again and again.
for your activities are 18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater and
stream erosion. They slice dramatically through tree-covered, sandstone
bluffs for four miles at Starved Rock State Park, which is located
along the south side of the Illinois River, one mile south of Utica and midway between the cities of LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa.
park is best known for its fascinating rock formations, primarily
St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more
than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface.
While the areas along the river and its tributaries still are predominantly
forested, much of the area is a flat, gently rolling plain. The
upland prairies were created during an intensive warming period
several thousand years after the melting of the glaciers. The Illinois
River Valley in the Starved Rock area is a major contrast to the
flatland. The valley was formed by a series of floods as glacial
meltwater broke through moraines, sending torrents of water surging
across the land and deeply eroding the sandstone and other sedimentary
early spring, when the end of winter thaw is occurring and rains
are frequent, sparkling waterfalls are found at the heads of all
18 canyons, and vertical walls of moss-covered stone create a setting
of natural geologic beauty uncommon in Illinois. Some of the longer-lasting
waterfalls are found in French, LaSalle and St. Louis canyons.
rivers and streams can undercut a cliff, creating overhangs in the
sandstone, like Council Overhang at the east end of the park. Other
sights can be seen from the bluffs themselves, which provide vantage
points for enjoying spectacular vistas. The porous sandstone bluffs
allow water to soak quickly through, only to collect in greater
quantities on the slopes below. The resulting lush vegetation supports
an abundant wildlife and bird population, including woodchucks,
moles, vireos and catbirds. Wood ducks that nest in hollow trees
occasionally can be seen paddling along the rivers edge. Evidence
of beavers and muskrats can be seen as you walk along the River
oak, red cedar and white oak, as well as white pine and white cedar,
grow on the drier, sandy bluff tops. Yellowbellied sapsuckers drill
parallel rows of small holes on cedar trees and return to feed on
sap and small insects. Serviceberry and northern honeysuckle--shrubs
that prefer a well-drained area--attract scarlet tangers and cedar
away from the bluffs, red oaks and hickories predominate in deeper
soils. Typical plants characteristic of the forest floor include
the American witch hazel, black huckleberry and bracken fern. Nuthatches
and chickadees feed on nuts, seeds and insects found in the bark
of trees. Raccoons and flying squirrels spend many hours searching
for and gathering berries and nuts.
the forest edge, bright blue indigo buntings flit through the wild
crab apple and plum trees that skirt the former glacial till prairie,
while cottontail rabbits scamper through the bluestem and Indian
grasses. In the sandy prairie soil, prickly pear cactus grows alongside
lead plant, compass plant and rattlesnake master. White-tailed deer
come to munch on the sumac, and red-tailed hawks soar overhead in
search of voles and field mice.
spring and summer, wildflowers are as plentiful and varied as they
are beautiful. Included in the floral array are colorful lichens
and mosses, marsh marigolds, wild iris, trillium and Dutchmans
breeches, plus purple-flowered spiderworts, nodding or orange columbine
and the magenta blooms of shooting star.
poison ivy plant is found in all areas of the park. Its greenish-white
berries provide an important food source for birds.
Rock State Park is host to a number of enjoyable annual events,
including the Winter Wilderness Weekend and Eagle Watch Weekend in January, the Cross-Country
Ski Weekend in February, the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in May,
and the Fall Colors Weekend
visitor center offers displays and exhibits explaining the parks
cultural and natural history. A weekly schedule of activities is
posted. Hours are 9 a.m - 4 p.m. daily (Closed Thanksgiving Day and
Christmas Day). Schools and other organized groups
may arrange reservations for programs by contacting the center at
(815) 667-4906 or writing to Program Coordinator, Starved Rock State
Park, PO Box 509, Utica, IL 61373.
GUIDED HIKES, VISITOR
CENTER HOURS, and SPECIAL EVENTS
View the below videos to learn more about Starved Rock and Mattheissen State Parks. There is also an "Audio Only" option if you would like to just listen.
Audio Only Format
on a high bluff just southwest of the rock itself is the stone and
log lodge built in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the
1930s. The lodge has been refurbished, but still reflects the peaceful
atmosphere of yesteryear. A new hotel wing has been added and features
a registration lobby, an indoor swimming pool,
whirlpool, saunas and an outdoor sunning patio.
The lodge offers 72 luxury hotel rooms and 22 comfortable cabin
rooms. The Great Room is centered around a massive stone fireplace.
restaurant is open seven days a week and offers many house specialties.
It can accommodate up to 250 people for banquets. The lodges
conference area can accommodate up to 200 with four smaller meeting
rooms also available.
lodge reservations, call 1-800-868-ROCK (7625) or (815) 667-4211,
or visit the lodge website at Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center or by mail: Starved
Rock Lodge and Conference Center, PO Box 570, Utica,
area has been home to humans from as early as 8000 B.C. Hopewellian,
Woodland and Mississippian Native American cultures thrived here.
The most recent and probably the most numerous group of Native Americans
to live here was the Illiniwek, from the 1500s to the 1700s. Approximately
5,000 to 7,000 Kaskaskias, a subtribe of the Illiniwek, had a village
extending along the bank of the Illinois River across from the current
1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette
passed through here on their way up the Illinois from the Mississippi.
Known as Pere, the French word for Father,
Marquette returned two years later to found the Mission of the Immaculate
Conception-Illinois first Christian mission-at the Kaskaskia
the French claimed the region (and, indeed, the entire Mississippi
Valley), they built Fort St. Louis atop Starved Rock in the winter
of 1682-83 because of its commanding strategic position above the
last rapids on the Illinois River. Pressured from small war parties
of Iroquois in the French and Indian wars, the French abandoned
the fort by the early 1700s and retreated to what is now Peoria,
where they established Fort Pimitoui. Fort St. Louis became a haven
for traders and trappers, but by 1720 all remains of the fort had
Rock State Park derives its name from a Native American legend of
injustice and retribution. In the 1760s, Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa
tribe upriver from here, was slain by an Illiniwek while attending
a tribal council in southern Illinois. According to the legend,
during one of the battles that subsequently occurred to avenge his
killing, a band of Illiniwek, under attack by a band of Potawatomi
(allies of the Ottawa), sought refuge atop a 125-foot sandstone
butte. The Ottawa and Potawatomi surrounded the bluff and held their
ground until the hapless Illiniwek died of starvation- giving rise
to the name Starved Rock.
Illinois State Parks Commission was initially headquartered in Starved
Rock State Park after the park was purchased in 1911.
the majestic bluffs and canyons is the parks primary attraction,
and there are 13 miles of well-marked trails to help you enjoy them.
trails are open all year, but hikers are urged to exercise extreme
caution and to stay on official trails. To keep you oriented, trail
maps are located at all trail access points, intersections and points
of interest. There are colored posts along the trails, corresponding
to colors on the maps, and letter symbols on the trail brochure
to further assist you. Finally, yellow dots on posts indicate
that you are moving away from the lodge or visitor center, and white
dots mean you are returning.
to the parks fragile ecosystem, camping is prohibited in unauthorized
areas and all rock climbing, rappelling or scrambling off trails
is prohibited. Biking is not allowed on the hiking trails. For
your own safety, you must be off the trails by dark. Alcohol is
prohibited on all trails.
note that there are no washrooms or drinking water areas on the
may be launched from the west end of the park. Also, paddlewheel
boat rides are available.
are not allowed within 600 feet of the dam, as strong currents and
powerful undertows can be dangerous.
bullhead, white bass, sauger, walleye, carp and crappie may be caught
in the Illinois River.
no circumstances should you attempt to wade or swim in the river,
canyons or from any park shoreline.
skiing can be enjoyed at nearby Matthiessen State Park. Cross-country
ski rentals are available at Matthiessen Dells Area on weekends
December through March. Snowmobiling is not allowed anywhere at
Starved Rock, but is allowed at the I & M Canal one mile to
the north in Utica.
Eagle viewing is a popular winter activity enjoyed by many. Two
places to see the eagles are the top of Starved Rock and the Illinois
Waterway Visitor Center.
picnic areas are available to the day visitor, with tables, drinking
water and restroom facilities. Eight shelters are available on a
first-come, first-served basis. Alcohol
is prohibited January 1 through May 31 in the picnic area. Alcohol
is always prohibited on the trails.
| Campground Map
Starved Rock's campground has 129 Class-A Premium campsites. All sites are available for reservation. Reservations are made on-line at reserveamerica.com
Reservations for regular campsites and youth group sites require a $5.00 non-refundable reservation fee and payment of the full camping and utility fees at the time the reservation is made. The camping fee for a regular campsite is $25.00 per night unless it is a holiday at which time the campsite fee is $35.00.
Payment of the entire camping and utility fee amount will guarantee that the reservation will be held for the entire length of the stay. Campsites can be reserved for a maximum of 14 nights per 30-day period
Reservations must be made at least three days before the campsite is needed. Reservations for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends require a three-night minimum stay reservation..
Reservations must be cancelled 3 days in advance to receive the entire camping fee. If cancelled after the 3 days, the first night’s camping fee will not be refunded. Remember the $5.00 reservation fee will NOT be refunded .
Each campsite has electricity and a grill pit for your campfire and grilling enjoyment. There is a shower and flush toilet building in each loop of the campground; and a separate youth group camping area.
Alcohol is ALWAYS prohibited in the campground. There is a camp store in the campground that operates seasonally (Usually May 1st to Oct. 31st) that sells firewood, ice, soda and other camping supplies.
During firearm deer seasons, the campground will be closed. The campground gates are opened from 8:30 am until 10:00 pm.
To find local attractions and restaurants, please visit the LaSalle County Visitors Bureau
southbound: South to I-80 east (exit #59). Go 2 miles
to exit #81 (Rt. 178, Utica). Go south (right) 3 miles on Rt.
178 and follow the signs into the Park.
northbound: North to Exit #48 (Tonica exit). Go east
(right) for approximately 5 miles to the T-intersection, which
is Rt. 178. Go north (left) for approximately 5 miles and follow
the signs into the Park.
Eastbound and Westbound: Get off at exit #81 (Rt.178,
Utica). Go south 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow the signs into
the Chicago area: Take I-294 or I-355 south to I-55.
Take I-55 south to I-80. Go west on I-80, 45 miles to Exit #81
(Rt. 178, Utica). Go south (left) 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow
the signs into 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.
Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information
(217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.