Situated along the scenic Illinois River, the Starved Rock Visitor Center should be the first stop when visiting the park. The visitor center is open 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM daily (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day). Trail maps are available inside the center and in brochure racks outside the building. Park staff will be on hand to explain the trail system and give trail advice. Educational displays inside the center will help acquaint visitors with the park history, geology, flora, and fauna of Starved Rock State Park. Three informational park videos are highly recommended and available upon request.
Lisa Sons, Natural Resource Coordinator
Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks
Route 178 and 71
Utica, Il 61373
Guided Tours (school, scout, and special interest groups)
Free guided hikes are available at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sundays only, from the third Saturday in June through the second Sunday in November. Hikes will leave from the Visitor Center down by the main parking lot. Interpreters will discuss the history, geology, flora, and fauna of the park while hiking to Starved Rock and French Canyon.
Starved Rock State Park hosts many special event weekends throughout the year. During special event weekends, visitors can hike with guides to see icefalls, bald eagles, spring wildflowers, beautiful colors of autumn, can learn to kayak, and get up-close and personal with birds of prey. Most special events are free unless otherwise noted. Schedule of Events.
Jr. Ranger Program
Hey, kids! Starved Rock now has a Jr. Ranger program! Jr. Ranger booklets are available to pick-up at the Starved Rock Visitor Center during regular operational hours. Booklets are designed for kids ages 5 and up. Activities within these booklets can be completed using displays/exhibits inside the visitor center and by hiking trails within the park. Bring the completed booklet back before closing and if successfully completed kids will receive an official Starved Rock State Park Jr. Ranger badge.
Click here to review/print copies of the Jr. Ranger booklets:
The Starved Rock Visitor Center has a new Scout Badge in a Backpack program that both Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts can utilize at the park. Leaders can check out a backpack to help their troop earn a badge in a day or a weekend. Girl Scout badges offered are Brownies/Hikers, Juniors/Animal Habitats, and Cadettes/Trees. Cub Scout badges offered are Wolf/Birds, Bear/Native American Indian Life, and Webelos/Forester. Each backpack contains everything a leader needs to help their troop complete the badge requirements. Badges can be purchased from local scout councils.
The park also offers a custom Starved Rock Scout Program in which individual scouts or troops can ask for the program at the Visitor Center and complete the 10 tasks listed. Once the tasks are completed scouts will know the park's history, geology, flora, and fauna and receive a signed Starved Rock Scout Program Certificate from the Natural Resource Coordinator. Scout leaders can ask for the custom patch ordering information at the Visitor Center. Patches come from Advantage Emblem-not the park.
Scout Badge in a Backpack.pdf
Starved Rock Scout Patch Program.pdf
Bald Eagle Viewing
During winter months, bald eagles flock to Starved Rock in search of food. One of the best spots in the park for eagle viewing is from the top of Starved Rock. Frozen river = more bald eagles! If temperatures are very cold, large numbers of bald eagles can be found at Starved Rock. Bald eagles migrate to the Starved Rock area from Canada and the Great Lake states during the winter months due to the Starved Rock Lock and Dam. The turbulent water under the dam keeps the water open year round so bald eagles can always find food…in this case fish, their primary food source.
Starved Rock History Information Packet
For detailed information on the legend and history of Starved Rock, check out the Starved Rock History Booklet
. The packet includes information on Starved Rock itself, Illinois River Lock and Dam, the Civilian Conservation Corps, geology, flora, and fauna of the park, and French and Native American history of the park.