The visitor center offers displays and exhibits explaining the park’s cultural and natural history. A weekly schedule of activities is posted. Hours are 9 am - 4 pm 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.
Situated 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.
The restaurant is open seven days a week and offers many house specialties. It can accommodate up to 250 people for banquets. The lodge’s conference area can accommodate up to 200 with four smaller meeting rooms also available.
For lodge reservations, call 1-800-868-ROCK (7625) or 815-667-4211, or visit the lodge website .
Exploring the majestic bluffs and canyons is the park’s primary attraction, and there are 13 miles of well-marked trails to help you enjoy them.
The 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.
Due to the park’s 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.
Visitors can help keep the trails beautiful by removing trash, remaining on trails and refraining from defacing canyon walls.
Visitors to Starved Rock State Park can now take a guided hike on the park’s most popular trails by using this new smartphone app. Download the Prairie State Hike App for just 99 cents.
** Please note that there are no washrooms or drinking water areas on the trails. **
Fishing and Boating
Boats may be launched from the west end of the park. Also, paddlewheel boat rides are available.
Boats are not allowed within 600 feet of the dam, as strong currents and powerful undertows can be dangerous. Catfish, bullhead, white bass, sauger, walleye, carp and crappie may be caught in the Illinois River. Under no circumstances should you attempt to wade or swim in the river, canyons or from any park shoreline.
Check the IDNR website for Hunter Fact Sheets for hunting programs at Starved Rock, including deer, wild turkey, dove, waterfowl, squirrel and furbearer programs. For more information, please review the Hunter Fact Sheet.
Cross-country 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.
Developed 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.
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. Alcohol is ALWAYS prohibited in the campground. There is a camp store in the campground that operates seasonally (Usually May 1-Oct. 31) 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.
This 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 park.
In 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 Indian village.
When 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 disappeared.
Starved 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.”
The Illinois State Parks Commission was initially headquartered in Starved Rock State Park after the park was purchased in 1911.
2015 Special Events at Starved Rock State Park
(Phone 815-667-4726 for details)
Spring Migratory Bird Hike- May 2
Join the park naturalist and local bird expert, Tom Williams, as we hike to seek out resident birds and greet our spring migrators. Bring your binoculars and your favorite bird guide. Hike lasts approximately 2 hours.
Free Fishing Days -June 5-8
Free fishing days in Illinois! Fish along the Illinois River. No fishing license needed.
National Trails Day- June 6
Celebrate National Trails day by hiking with the park naturalist! Hike to the top of Starved Rock and into the bottom of French Canyon. Learn about the history and geology of the park.
The Art & History of Falconry- June 14
The Art & History of Falconry- July 19
The Art & History of Falconry- August 2
Autumn Migratory Bird Hike -September 19
Fall Colors Weekend Â - October 17-18
Haunted Halloween Night Hikes and Storytelling -October 24
Sponsored by the Starved Rock Foundation
To find local attractions and restaurants, please visit www.enjoylasallecounty.com
I-39 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.
I-39 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.
I-80 Eastbound and Westbound: Get off at exit #81 (Rt.178, Utica). Go south 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow the signs into the Park.
From 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.