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Starved Rock State Park

2668 East 873 Road


Starved Rock State Park is situated along the south bank of the Illinois River, less than 100 miles from Chicago. This beautiful park attracted over 2 million visitors last year to explore its scenic trails and canyons, dine in its historic Lodge and enjoy the panoramic views from tall bluffs which offer a unique contrast to the flatlands of Illinois. A hike to the top of a sandstone butte or a peaceful stroll to explore any of the 18 canyons gives each visitor a memorable experience. The backdrop for hiking is 18 canyons formed by glacial melt-water and stream erosion. They slice dramatically through tree-covered, sandstone bluffs for four miles at Starved Rock State Park.

But how did Starved Rock get its name? The park derives its name from a Native American legend. In the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At this council of the Illinois and the Pottawatomie, Kinebo, the head chief of the Illinois tribe stabbed Chief Pontiac. Vengeance arose in Pontiac's followers. A great battle started. The Illinois, fearing death, took refuge on the great rock. After many days, the remaining Illinois died of starvation giving this historic park its name - Starved Rock.

In the 1890's, a man named Daniel Hitt purchased the site and developed the land for vacationers. He built a hotel, dance pavilion and swimming area. In 1911, the State of Illinois purchased the site from Mr. Hitt, making it the state's first recreational park. In the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps placed three camps at Starved Rock State Park and began building the Lodge and trail systems that you can now witness here at the Park.

The charm of Starved Rock lies largely in the fact that everything is in a state of nature, just as it was when Joliet, Marquette and Tonti and all the other explorers, missionaries, and traders that were here so many years ago. Some of the trails and buttes had stairs and platforms built upon them to help protect the delicate sandstone from washing away inch by inch.

The entrance to the Hotel wing of the Lodge - where the Front Desk will welcome you to our family!

0005 High res entrance spring 2013In 1966, Starved Rock State Park was named a National Historic Landmark. Starved Rock State Park's Lodge and Cabins were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 1985 as part of the Illinois State Park Lodges and Cabins Thematic Resources Multiple Property Submission. By the National Register's criteria the Lodge and Cabins are considered significant in the areas of architecture, entertainment and recreation. The lodge offers 69 hotel rooms and 21 comfortable cabin rooms. The Great Hall is centered around a massive, two-sided stone fireplace. The Main Dining Room is open seven days a week and offers many house specialties. The Lodge's conference area can accommodate up to 200, with four smaller meeting rooms for weddings or corporate retreats.

Next time you are here, take a moment to think about the history of this special place. Here is the same soil upon which the Indians trod, the same rocks and some of the same trees now standing, saw the stirring events of those earlier times. Here people have lived, prayed, fought and died more than two hundred years ago. Thousands of them resolved to dust upon this rock and within range of our vision.

There is and ever will be a charm about this park, both from its beauty and its melancholy story of the battles it has looked down upon. While here, let your imagination ponder what you have been told and see if you can sense what it was like ages ago, when they were here!


Mike and Grace Muroski

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Starved Rock has nice hiking and lodging. We appreciate that there is reserved parking for people staying at the lodge. When we were there, the AC was broken. We called the front desk, and someone was there to fix it very quickly. Unfortunately, he was not able to fix it, so we had to switch rooms. They gave us a 20% discount for the entire stay. We were very happy for the compensation.

Jennifer Isham

Saturday, June 2, 2018
My son and I have gone hiking around and exploring starved rock since he was just a toddler. We have a good time every time we visit. The waterfalls are beautiful. If you go off the marked trails then it can be a bit dangerous. There are many steps to climb. Some outlooks. This park is beautiful.

Pedro Dominguez

Sunday, May 13, 2018
Great hiking trails, with canyons and waterfalls (check St.Louis Canyon first trust me) near the Illinois River. The Visitor’s center is clean, with good food options at a reasonable price. Staff is friendly and willing to ask questions. Ask for a paper map to carry with you. We were here from 11am to 5pm hiking and were pretty tired. Expect to hike a lot of floors. We’ll definitely be back again.

Robert J Gay III

Friday, April 20, 2018
Starved Rock State Park is full of wonder all year. There are many boardwalk trails providing safe walkways in most weather. In the winter there are frozen waterfalls in the canyons. Spring often brings fast streams to the canyons and high water to the Illinois River. In summer there are miles of trails through lush oak forest. Fall brings cooler weather and changing leaves. thanks

Jennie Lakenan

Monday, June 4, 2018
So pretty! We hiked up to the cavern, just a short 1/4 mile or so since we had little kids with us. It was pretty and fun, though might not deserve to be called a hike. The trail wasn't too muddy even though it'd been really wet that week. We went up to the lodge after for lunch and some fudge!

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