Starved Rock State Park

2668 East 873 Road
815-667-4211

History:

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!


Reviews

Paul Kluxen

Rating:
Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018

Love the history! Visit the museum, the gift shops and the main lodge. You'll learn a lot about the history of the place. Be prepared for long hikes on the trails, but you'll see beautiful vistas and canyons. Stop at the restaurant for some good food, live entertainment and adult beverages. A great place to spend a summer day with picnics and fishing. Try just below the dam for walleye and white bass.

Dan Cesaro

Rating:
Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018

I love Starved Rock State Park. And so does everyone else. Awesome hiking here and amazing views of numerous waterfalls and canyons. But if the weather is nice, it's difficult to find parking and the trails can be very crowded. The lodge is really nice as well. Good food and they have a few craft beers, but can also get pretty crowded.

DJ T

Rating:
Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017

Beautiful nature trails & views. They're well kept and not crowded. There are many trail options depending on how far you're willing to hike. The trails are well labeled & depending on what trail you take, you'll get to a beautiful waterfall! They also have a gift shop and a restaurant/bar too. In the summer they have outdoor grilling as an option, but the food is pretty good year round.

Chad Butler

Rating:
Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017

Starved Rock is a beautiful state park in Illinois. If you are anywhere in northern Illinois, you really should plan to visit. The park changes throughout the year. The most popular time is in the spring when the snow melt causes waterfalls through the dells in the park. Be ready to walk - a lot. The main part of the park is pretty easy even if you're not a "hiker" as there is a boardwalk and stairs for most of the main path. There are additional trails that are a little more difficult. If you really want to see the park, though, go off the beaten path. Hike the nature preserve where there are not trails (west of 178 and north of 71). Very few people go here and that makes it the best location. Keep in mind that off-path, the terrain is rugged and there are some VERY steep cliffs. Use extreme caution when hiking in this area.

Elizabeth Scheuer-Murphy

Rating:
Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017

Wow. Went on thanksgiving day. Visitor center wasn't open but you could still walk the trails. Wild cat and French crayons had water coming over . not a Lot but enough to make it beautiful. There was steps by each stop. Well worth the climb. Definitely go down into the canyons. I was impressed