Starved Rock State Park In Illinois

Here is everything you need to know about the Starved Rock State Park:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Illinois
  • Length: 11 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: rock
  • Managed By: Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

Starved Rock State Park, located in Illinois, holds a rich historical significance that dates back thousands of years. The park’s name is derived from a tragic event that occurred in the 1760s when a group of Illinois Confederation Native Americans sought refuge on top of a sandstone butte known as Starved Rock. The tribe was besieged by a rival tribe, resulting in a long and deadly siege that ultimately led to starvation and death for many of the inhabitants. This event has become a significant part of the park’s history and folklore.

Prior to European settlement, the area surrounding Starved Rock was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Illinois Confederation, who utilized the natural resources of the region for hunting, fishing, and gathering. The park’s location along the Illinois River made it a strategic and important area for trade and transportation.

In the 17th century, French explorers and fur traders arrived in the region, establishing a fur trading post near Starved Rock. The French presence in the area continued until the mid-18th century when the British gained control of the Illinois Country. The British maintained a military presence at Fort St. Louis, located near Starved Rock, until the American Revolutionary War.

During the 19th century, the area around Starved Rock witnessed significant industrial development, including the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The canal, completed in 1848, connected the Illinois River to Lake Michigan, facilitating trade and transportation throughout the region. The construction of the canal brought an influx of settlers to the area, leading to the establishment of towns and villages nearby.

In the early 20th century, efforts were made to preserve the natural beauty and historical significance of Starved Rock. In 1911, the state of Illinois acquired the land and established Starved Rock State Park, making it one of the oldest state parks in the state. Today, the park attracts millions of visitors each year who come to explore its stunning canyons, waterfalls, and hiking trails, while also learning about its captivating historical past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Visitor Center: This is the main access point to Starved Rock State Park. It provides information, maps, and exhibits about the park.

2. Starved Rock Lodge: Located near the Visitor Center, the lodge offers accommodations, dining options, and access to various trails.

3. Illinois Canyon: This trailhead is located near the Visitor Center and leads to the scenic Illinois Canyon, known for its waterfalls and rock formations.

4. French Canyon: Another popular trailhead near the Visitor Center, French Canyon offers a picturesque hike along a flowing stream and through a narrow canyon.

5. St. Louis Canyon: This trailhead is located near the Visitor Center and leads to St. Louis Canyon, which features a beautiful waterfall and unique rock formations.

6. Wildcat Canyon: Accessible from the Visitor Center, Wildcat Canyon offers stunning views of a waterfall and the Illinois River.

7. LaSalle Canyon: This trailhead is located near the Visitor Center and leads to LaSalle Canyon, known for its towering sandstone walls and cascading waterfall.

8. Eagle Cliff Overlook: This trailhead is located near the Visitor Center and provides a panoramic view of the Illinois River and the surrounding landscape.

9. Lover’s Leap Overlook: Accessible from the Visitor Center, Lover’s Leap Overlook offers a breathtaking view of the Illinois River and the Starved Rock Lock and Dam.

10. Ottawa Canyon: This trailhead is located near the Visitor Center and leads to Ottawa Canyon, which features a beautiful waterfall and unique rock formations.

11. Matthiessen State Park: While not directly within Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park is located nearby and offers additional access points and trailheads to explore.

Transportation Available

1. Starved Rock Trolley – Trolley service offering transportation to and from Starved Rock State Park.
2. Starved Rock Adventures – Boat tours and water taxi services near Starved Rock State Park.
3. Starved Rock Country Cab – Local taxi service providing transportation in the Starved Rock area.
4. Starved Rock Shuttle – Shuttle service offering convenient transportation to various attractions near Starved Rock State Park.
5. Starved Rock Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the park and its surroundings.
6. Starved Rock RV Rentals – RV rental service for those looking to camp and explore the area.
7. Starved Rock Limousine – Limousine service for a luxurious transportation experience in the Starved Rock region.
8. Starved Rock Helicopter Tours – Helicopter tours providing aerial views of Starved Rock State Park and its surroundings.


The amenities available at Starved Rock State Park include:

1. Restrooms: There are multiple restroom facilities located throughout the park for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: The park offers ample parking spaces for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. There are designated parking lots near the visitor center and various trailheads.

3. Camping Sites: Starved Rock State Park has a campground with 133 Class A campsites. These sites are equipped with electricity, showers, and flush toilets. Reservations are required for camping.

4. Picnic Areas: There are several designated picnic areas throughout the park, equipped with picnic tables, grills, and trash receptacles. Visitors can enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature.

5. Visitor Center: The park has a visitor center that provides information about the park’s history, trails, and activities. It also offers exhibits, a gift shop, and restrooms.

6. Hiking Trails: Starved Rock State Park has 13 miles of well-maintained hiking trails, which lead to various scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and canyons. These trails are suitable for all skill levels.

7. Lodge and Conference Center: The park features the Starved Rock Lodge, which offers overnight accommodations, a restaurant, and a lounge. The lodge also has conference facilities for events and meetings.

8. Water Activities: Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, and kayaking on the Illinois River, which borders the park. Boat rentals are available nearby.

9. Wildlife Viewing: Starved Rock State Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Visitors can observe birds, deer, squirrels, and other animals in their natural habitat.

10. Interpretive Programs: The park offers various interpretive programs, including guided hikes, educational talks, and nature workshops. These programs provide insights into the park’s natural and cultural history.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change or seasonal availability. It is recommended to check the official Starved Rock State Park website or contact the park directly for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Starved Rock Lodge – Historic lodge offering comfortable accommodations and on-site dining options.
2. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort – Family-friendly resort with lodging, indoor water park, and dining facilities.
3. Brightwood Inn – Cozy bed and breakfast with scenic views and a complimentary breakfast.
4. Kishauwau’s Starved Rock Area Cabins – Rustic cabins nestled in a wooded area, perfect for a peaceful getaway.
5. Starved Rock Camping – Campground offering tent and RV sites, as well as basic amenities.
6. The Lone Buffalo by Tangled Roots Brewing Company – Brewery and restaurant serving craft beers and delicious food.
7. Duffy’s Tavern – Casual eatery known for its burgers, sandwiches, and friendly atmosphere.
8. Uptown Grill – Upscale American restaurant offering a diverse menu and a full bar.
9. Peru Mall – Nearby shopping center with various dining options and retail stores.
10. Illinois Valley Community Hospital – Local hospital providing emergency medical services.

Starved Rock State Park Difficulty Notes

Starved Rock State Park offers a moderate level of difficulty for outdoor enthusiasts. With its rugged terrain and numerous hiking trails, the park provides a challenging yet rewarding experience for visitors. The park’s canyons, waterfalls, and steep cliffs require some physical exertion, making it suitable for those seeking a more adventurous outing. However, the park also offers easier trails for those looking for a more leisurely stroll. Overall, Starved Rock State Park strikes a balance between accessibility and challenge, making it a popular destination for hikers of varying skill levels.

Features And Attractions

1. Starved Rock State Park: The park itself is a scenic wonder, with its towering sandstone canyons, waterfalls, and lush greenery.

2. Starved Rock Lodge: This historic lodge is located within the park and offers stunning views of the Illinois River. It was built in the 1930s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. Illinois River: The park is situated along the Illinois River, providing beautiful views of the water and opportunities for boating, fishing, and birdwatching.

4. Starved Rock Dam: Located just downstream from the park, the dam offers a picturesque sight and is a popular spot for fishing.

5. LaSalle Canyon: This canyon within the park features a stunning waterfall and is a favorite among hikers and nature enthusiasts.

6. French Canyon: Another scenic canyon in the park, French Canyon offers breathtaking views and is known for its unique rock formations.

7. Lover’s Leap Overlook: This overlook provides panoramic views of the Illinois River and the surrounding countryside. It is a popular spot for photography and picnicking.

8. Ottawa Canyon: Known for its beautiful sandstone walls and seasonal waterfalls, Ottawa Canyon is a must-visit for nature lovers.

9. Wildcat Canyon: This canyon features a picturesque waterfall and is a great spot for hiking and exploring.

10. St. Louis Canyon: With its towering walls and cascading waterfall, St. Louis Canyon is one of the most popular canyons in the park.

11. Eagle Cliff Overlook: This overlook offers stunning views of the Illinois River and is a great spot for birdwatching, especially during the winter months when bald eagles can be spotted.

12. Matthiessen State Park: Located just south of Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park is known for its beautiful canyons, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

13. Buffalo Rock State Park: Situated along the Illinois River, Buffalo Rock State Park offers scenic views, hiking trails, and a historic Native American effigy mound.

14. Illinois Waterway Visitor Center: Located near the park, this visitor center provides information about the Illinois River, its history, and the surrounding natural areas.

15. Lock and Dam No. 14: This lock and dam, located on the Illinois River, offers a unique sight and is a popular spot for watching barges and boats pass through.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed in designated areas only and must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is allowed only in designated camping areas and requires a permit.
3. Campfires are permitted only in designated fire rings or grills.
4. Hunting and trapping are strictly prohibited within the park.
5. Swimming is allowed only in designated areas and at your own risk.
6. Fishing is allowed with a valid Illinois fishing license.
7. Alcohol consumption is prohibited in public areas, including trails and picnic areas.
8. Bicycles are allowed only on designated trails and roadways.
9. Motorized vehicles are allowed only on designated roadways and parking areas.
10. Littering is strictly prohibited; please dispose of trash in designated receptacles.
11. Gathering or removing plants, rocks, or artifacts is strictly prohibited.
12. Drone usage is not allowed within the park without prior permission.
13. Overnight parking is allowed only in designated areas.
14. Camping equipment must be removed from the park after use.
15. Fireworks and other explosive devices are strictly prohibited.
16. Seasonal restrictions may apply to certain activities or areas of the park; please check for any posted signs or notices.

Seasonal Information

Starved Rock State Park, located in Illinois, is a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. The park offers breathtaking views of canyons, waterfalls, and the Illinois River, making it a must-visit location. When planning your trip to Starved Rock State Park, it is essential to consider the best times of the year to visit and any seasonal closures that may affect your experience.

One of the best times to visit Starved Rock State Park is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the park comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, and the waterfalls are at their peak flow due to the melting snow. The weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and lower humidity, making it ideal for hiking and exploring the park’s numerous trails.

Another great time to visit is in the fall, specifically during September and October. The park’s foliage transforms into a stunning display of red, orange, and yellow hues, creating a picturesque landscape. The cooler temperatures make it comfortable for outdoor activities, such as hiking, birdwatching, and photography. Fall also brings fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season, allowing visitors to enjoy a more serene and peaceful experience.

It is important to note that Starved Rock State Park experiences seasonal closures and restrictions. During the winter months, some trails and facilities may be closed due to icy conditions and safety concerns. It is advisable to check the park’s website or contact the visitor center for the most up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions before planning your visit. Additionally, weekends and holidays tend to be busier, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting on weekdays or during off-peak seasons.

In conclusion, the best times to visit Starved Rock State Park are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant, and the park showcases its natural beauty. However, it is essential to be aware of any seasonal closures and restrictions that may affect your visit. Whether you are a nature lover, hiker, or photographer, Starved Rock State Park offers a memorable experience throughout the year.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Trails: Starved Rock State Park offers several trails that are paved and accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to explore the park’s natural beauty.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the park’s main facilities, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: The park provides accessible restrooms equipped with features such as grab bars and wider doorways to accommodate individuals with mobility challenges.
4. Visitor Center Accessibility: The visitor center is wheelchair accessible, allowing everyone to access park information, exhibits, and services.
5. Picnic Areas: Wheelchair-accessible picnic areas are available throughout the park, providing inclusive spaces for visitors to enjoy outdoor meals and gatherings.
6. Accessible Lodging: The park offers accessible lodging options, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can enjoy overnight stays in comfortable and accommodating facilities.
7. Assistance Animals: Service animals are welcome in Starved Rock State Park, providing support and companionship to individuals with disabilities.
8. Accessible Fishing: The park provides accessible fishing areas, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy the sport and the park’s scenic waterways.
9. Accessible Viewing Areas: Scenic overlooks and viewpoints within the park are designed to be accessible, providing everyone with the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views.
10. Accessible Interpretive Programs: Starved Rock State Park offers inclusive interpretive programs that cater to individuals with disabilities, providing educational and engaging experiences for all visitors.

Safety Information

When visiting Starved Rock State Park, it is important to be aware of the following safety information:

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked trails and avoid venturing off into restricted or closed areas. Straying from the trails can be dangerous and may lead to accidents or injuries.

2. Wear appropriate footwear: The park’s trails can be uneven, rocky, or slippery, especially during wet weather. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots with good traction to prevent slips and falls.

3. Be cautious near waterfalls and canyons: Starved Rock State Park is known for its beautiful waterfalls and canyons, but they can be hazardous. Observe warning signs and barriers, and avoid climbing on wet rocks or getting too close to the edges of cliffs.

4. Be mindful of weather conditions: Check the weather forecast before your visit and be prepared for changing conditions. Thunderstorms can occur suddenly, leading to flash floods or falling tree branches. Seek shelter if a storm approaches.

5. Stay hydrated and bring snacks: Starved Rock State Park covers a large area, and it is essential to stay hydrated, especially during hot summer months. Carry enough water and pack some snacks to maintain energy levels during your visit.

6. Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes: The park is home to ticks and mosquitoes, especially during warmer months. Apply insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and check for ticks after your visit to prevent tick-borne illnesses.

7. Respect wildlife and keep a safe distance: Starved Rock State Park is home to various wildlife species. Observe animals from a safe distance and do not approach or feed them. Remember, they are wild animals and can be unpredictable.

8. Carry a trail map and let someone know your plans: Before starting your hike, grab a trail map from the visitor center and familiarize yourself with the routes. Inform a friend or family member about your plans, including the trails you intend to explore and your estimated return time.

9. Be prepared for emergencies: Carry a fully charged cell phone, a basic first aid kit, and any necessary medications. In case of an emergency, call 911 or contact park staff for assistance.

10. Leave no trace: Help preserve the park’s natural beauty by following the principles of “Leave No Trace.” Pack out all trash, respect the environment, and leave everything as you found it.

Remember, safety is paramount when visiting any natural area. By being prepared, aware of your surroundings, and following park rules and guidelines, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience at Starved Rock State Park.

Conservation Notes

Starved Rock State Park, located in Illinois, is a significant natural area that holds great conservation value. The park is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including forests, canyons, and waterfalls, which support a wide variety of plant and animal species. The conservation status of Starved Rock State Park is considered to be stable, with ongoing efforts to protect and preserve its natural resources.

One of the key conservation efforts in the park is the preservation of its unique geological features. The park’s canyons, formed by glacial meltwater and erosion over thousands of years, are of great geological significance. These canyons provide habitat for various plant species, including rare ferns and mosses, which are carefully monitored and protected. Additionally, the park’s sandstone cliffs and rock formations are important nesting sites for several bird species, such as peregrine falcons and bald eagles, which are actively monitored and managed to ensure their continued presence.

Furthermore, Starved Rock State Park is committed to the conservation of its diverse wildlife. The park is home to numerous mammal species, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, and coyotes. Efforts are made to maintain a healthy balance between predator and prey populations, ensuring the overall ecological integrity of the park. Additionally, the park’s rivers and streams support a variety of fish species, including smallmouth bass and catfish, which are protected through fishing regulations and habitat restoration projects.

Overall, the conservation status of Starved Rock State Park is considered to be in good condition. Ongoing efforts to protect its unique geological features, diverse plant life, and wildlife populations contribute to the preservation of this natural treasure. By maintaining a delicate balance between human activities and the park’s ecological needs, Starved Rock State Park continues to thrive as a valuable conservation area.

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