Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park located on the Illinois River bluffs in La Salle County, is a popular destination in Illinois. There are 18 canyons with vertical sandstone stone walls formed by glacial runoff in the park. More than 13 miles of wooded trails allow hikers to access waterfalls fed by runoff and natural springs, overhangs, and overlooks. The area was inhabited by native populations as early as 8000 B.C.E.
Recreational offerings are camping, hiking, fishing, boating, and hunting. The Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center was built in the 1930’s from stone and logs and offers indoor and outdoor dining, lodging and cabins. Some of the hiking trail heads are within walking distance of the lodge. The campsites are a short drive from the lodge and these trailheads. It is possible to hike in the morning starting from one of the trailheads near the lodge, grab lunch on the patio behind the lodge, and then hike from another trailhead. If you are too tired to prepare dinner at the campsite after a day of hiking the canyons, consider chooosing from the delicious options from the menu in the dining room or from the more casual patio and bar area next to the dining room.
There are 13 miles of well marked trails in this state park. Starved Rock trailheads for many trails of varying length and difficulty are located near the lodge, along Rt 71 and Rt 178. There are two trailheads to access St. Louis Canyon, one from the west side of the lodge and the other from Rt 178. The trailhead from Rt 178 is not recommended since the parking lot and access road are closed due to lack of maintenance, although there is limited parking available. If you plan to start from the lodge to access another St. Louis trailhead, there is parking available on the lodge property and overflow parking within walking distance of the lodge. On weekends, especially during the summer, you may be forced to use the overflow lot and hike to the trailheads near the lodge.
The other many overlooks and canyons are accessible from the trailheads near the lodge and by the river or from the parking lot. Since the trail system is quite long, the Owl Canyon Overlook and Hidden Canyon are accessible from the first parking lot east of the lodge along Rt 71. Further down Rt 71, there is another parking lot with access to Hennepin Canyon and Hennepin Canyon Overlook. An additional three parking lots further east on Rt 71 are located by the trailheads to Council Overhang, Ottawa Canyon, Kaskaskia Canyon, and Illinois Canyon. Download a Starved Rock Trail Map.
Matthiessen State Park is a couple miles from the lodge and offers additional hiking on two levels along the dells. The top level follows along both sides of the upper part of the steep canyon while the lower levels follow the creek. A pedestrian bridge crosses the canyon at the point where a dam was built.
Starved Rock’s campground provides 129 Class-A Premium campsites that can be reserved online at ExploreMoreIL no more than 180 days in advance of the reservation date. This park is a very popular attraction for hiking during the day and for camping on the weekends. It is suggested that reservations for weekends There are two large loops where the campsites are situated; an East Loop characterized by heavily treed sites and the West Loop which is quite open. If you are bringing a large RV or trailer, you may want to try a site in the West Loop for your first trip. Download a Starved Rock State Park Campground map.
Several water hydrants are located throughout the campground, each loop has either porta potties or pit toilets, plus a bath house with flush toilets and showers is located in each loop. The sites have driveways of varying lengths and some are sloped. One dump station services the campground while there are trash dumpsters located near each loop and away from the campsites. A small camp store is located near the entrance where firewood, ice cream novelties, and extraneous items you may have forgotten can be purchased. Fire wood is also available from a large vending machine when the camp store is not open.
Standard to each site are a picnic table, fire pit with grill grate, and electric hook-up. There are a few handicapped sites with cement pads that are situated close to pit toilets that are accessible using sidewalks from the site. The Starved Rock State Park Campground brochure indicates site accommodation for different size trailers and which sites offer 50 AMP while all other sites offer 30 AMP. Campers are allowed to park no more than 2 vehicles on the site and pitch up to two tents. Visitors are welcome at your campsite as long as they leave before 10 PM. The gate to the campground is closed at 10 PM each evening, preventing entrance to the campground. However, exit is possible in emergencies by driving over the traffic spikes while exiting through the dump station area.
Occasionally campers may see wild life, like wild turkeys or raccoons near their campsite. The raccoons seem to watch over the sites sometimes, waiting for an opportunity to snatch unattended food from your table or cooler. Deer are present in the general area and might be seen from the road while driving to the lodge.
- Access ExploreMoreIL to make a reservation at an Illinois State Park.
- Access Illinois DNR information for Starved Rock
- Download a Starved Rock Trail Map
- Download Starved Rock State Park Campground brochure