UTICA, Ill. – Visitors to Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and throughout the busy summer months, should be alert to possible travel delays and temporary closures when parking lots reach capacity.
Due to flooding this spring on the Illinois River, Starved Rock’s main lower area parking lots near the Visitor Center will remain closed for the Memorial Day weekend. Visitors may park in the Starved Rock overflow lot, though only 300 parking spaces are available. The parking lot near the Starved Rock Lodge will be restricted to lodge patrons with reservations.
When Starved Rock/Matthiessen parking lots reach capacity, the parks may be closed temporarily for safety reasons until parking becomes available. Motorists are reminded not to park along park roads or public highways as that may prevent emergency vehicles from getting through. Vehicles parked illegally will be towed at the owner’s expense.
Temporary parking closures occur frequently during busy holiday, summer, and fall color weekends at Starved Rock. The heaviest traffic congestion and likely times for park closures occur on weekend days between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
For the Memorial Day weekend, picnic areas are very muddy, and visitors may want to consider other options. Starved Rock and Matthiessen trails are open but are extremely wet/muddy.
Visitors can monitor Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates on traffic delays and temporary parking closures at Starved Rock and Matthiessen.
“State park staff and IDNR Conservation Police Officers will monitor and direct traffic, and we encourage motorists to slow down, be patient, and follow instructions in and near the park,” said Jerry Costello, director of the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement. “While they are at Starved Rock and all of our state parks, visitors should follow park rules and regulations for the safety of everyone.”
Conservation Police strictly enforce the following safety rules at Starved Rock:
• No possession of alcohol on trails year-round
• No alcohol allowed anywhere in the park Jan. 1 – May 31
• No hiking off trails
• No climbing rock walls and cliffs
• No swimming
• No defacing sandstone walls with paint or etchings
• No littering
• No being on trails after dark
All hikers at Starved Rock State Park should stay on designated trails. St. Peter sandstone in Starved Rock can crumble and be slippery when wet.
For updates, visitors may check for information on park activities and possible temporary closures as they near the park by tuning to the Starved Rock radio station on 1610 AM. Visitors can also check for updates via social media by liking the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Facebook page and following the IDNR on Twitter @IllinoisDNR.