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Starved Rock Among Illinois’ Best Places for Hiking, Waterfalls. Here’s What to Know

Starved Rock State Park is popular destination for nature lovers and continues to be one of the top destinations for hiking and other outdoor activities in Illinois.

Visitors can even plan ahead and stay overnight at the Starved Rock Lodge or the Starved Rock Campground.

Here’s what you need to know about Starved Rock: 

Where is Starved Rock State Park?

The Illinois park sits along side the Illinois River in LaSalle County.

What town is Starved Rock in?

Starved Rock is located in the city of Oglesby, Ill.

How far is Starved Rock from Peoria, Ill.?

The park is approximately 65 miles away, or a drive of about an hour and 15 minutes.

How far is Starved Rock from Chicago?

The park is approximately 98 miles away, or a drive of about 2 hours and 5 minutes.

When does Starved Rock open and close?

Starved Rock trails are open from 7 a.m. to sunset daily, while the visitor’s center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The visitor’s center is closed on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Due to health and safety reasons, visitors are not allowed on trails after dark. Fines begin at $195 per person.

For more information, call (815) 667-4726 or visit dnr.illinois.gov/parks/park.starvedrock.html

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What is Starved Rock famous for? 

The view from an overlook at Starved Rock State Park.

There is plenty of history at Starved Rock State Park, according to the website. These days people enjoy the sandstone overhangs, overlooks and waterfalls, as well as boating, camping, fishing, hiking and hunting.

This area has been home to humans as early as 8000 B.C. Hopewellian, Woodland and Mississippian Native American cultures thrived in the region. The most recent and probably the most numerous group of Native Americans to live in the region were the Illinois.  Various subtribes who belonged to the Illinois Confederation occupied the area from the 16th through the early 19th centuries. The Kaskaskia people were one of those subtribes.  They lived directly across from present day Starved Rock State Park in an area known as the Grand Village or La Vantum by the French. 

In 1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jesuit missionary, Father Jacques Marquette passed through the area on their way up the Illinois from the Mississippi River. Known as “Pere,” the French word for “Father,” Marquette returned two years later and founded the Mission of the Immaculate Conception, Illinois’ first Christian mission, at the Kaskaskia village.

The French built Fort St. Louis atop Starved Rock in the winter of 1682-83 because of its commanding strategic position above 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. Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe was slain by a Peoria brave (the peoria were a sub-tribe of the Illinois Confederation) 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 Illinois, under attack by a band of Potawatomi (allies of the Ottawa), sought refuge atop a 125-foot sandstone butte (today’s Starved Rock). The Ottawa and Potawatomi surrounded the butte and held their ground until the hapless Illinois died of starvation- giving rise to the name Starved Rock.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Do you have to pay to get into Starved Rock?
No, according to the Starved Rock Lodge website. In fact, all state parks offer free admission in Illinois.
How long of a hike is Starved Rock?  
This map shows 16 trails that cover 13 total miles at Starved Rock from the lodge. Trail distances are all one-way.
Can you swim in waterfalls at Starved Rock?  
No swimming is allowed in the waterfalls, according to the Illinois DNR.
How hard is the Starved Rock hike?  
According to the lodge website, the trails are natural dirt and sand paths with multiple metal or wooden overlook staircases and decking at Starved Rock, Eagle Cliff and Lovers Leap.

There are few flat areas for hiking at the park due to the topography, or surface of the land. The site says Illinois Canyon is without staircases and is the flattest of the trails. However, there may be creek crossings where feet may get muddy or wet.

If you are looking for trails compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you won’t find any at Starved Rock but there are ADA compliant sidewalks that lead to the Art in the Park wooden tree carvings, as well as surrounding the lodge and visitor’s center.

What is not allowed at Starved Rock State Park?

  • Alcohol and any intoxicating substances (Exception: Alcohol is permitted in the picnic area June 1-Dec. 31)
  • Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates, etc.
  • Camping is prohibited outside of the state campground
  • Drones
  • Ground fires outside of the campground
  • Hiking after dark
  • Littering of any kind
  • Metal detecting
  • Picnicking outside of designated picnic areas
  • Removal of historical artifacts, rocks, plants, flowers, trees or wildlife
  • Rock climbing, rappelling and scaling the sandstone features including the canyon walls.
  • Sliding, swimming or wading in any body of water including the canyon creeks, river or waterfalls.

Is there camping at Starved Rock?

Yes. The Starved Rock Campground sits just outside the state park to the south of Route 71 and is open year round. Reservations are encouraged and can be made online at www.campexploremore.il.

Youth groups and disabled Illinois citizens must make reservations through the park office at (815) 667-4726. For more information, visit www2.illinois.gov/dnr.

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Are there cabin rental at Starved Rock?

Yes. There are cabins and rooms available at Starved Rock Lodge. Check-in time is guaranteed at 4 p.m. and checkout time is 11 a.m. Rates are based on capacity.

Reservations can be made online at www.starvedrocklodge.com or by calling call (815) 667-4211.

Source : Journal Star