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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Three 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.
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.
Take Dee Bennett Rd. east five miles to Buffalo Rock.