Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois' most beautiful destinations. The park's 18 canyons feature vertical walls of moss-covered stone formed by glacial meltwater that slice dramatically through tree-covered sandstone bluffs. More than 13 miles of trails allow access to waterfalls, fed season runoff or natural springs, sandstone overhangs, and spectacular overlooks. Lush vegetation supports abundant wildlife, while oak, cedar and pine grow on drier, sandy bluff tops.
Recreational opportunities abound, from hiking to camping to fishing, boating and hunting. Special events are scheduled throughout the year. The Starved Rock Visitor Center is open year-round, and the 1930s-era stone and log Starved Rock Lodge offers luxury lodging, cabin rooms, and fine dining.
Starved Rock State Park's cultural history can be traced to 8000 B.C., with Native Americans tribes and European explorers documenting villages and encampments near the park along the banks of the Illinois River. The park's name is derived from a Native American legend of a band of Illiniwek who died of starvation atop the 125-foot sandstone butte.
Exploring the majestic bluffs and canyons is the park’s primary attraction, and there are 13 miles of well-marked trails to help you enjoy them.
Dogs are allowed at the park as long as they are kept on a leash, their owners pick up after them and dispose of waste in trash cans, and provide them adequate water while on the trail (do not drink from waterfalls, creeks, or the river).
The trails are open all year, but hikers are urged to exercise extreme caution and to stay on official trails. To keep you oriented, trail maps are located at all trail access points, intersections and points of interest. There are colored posts along the trails, corresponding to colors on the maps, and letter symbols on the trail brochure to further assist you. Finally, yellow dots on posts indicate that you are moving away from the lodge or visitor center, and white dots mean you are returning.
Due to the park’s fragile ecosystem, camping is prohibited in unauthorized areas and all rock climbing, rappelling or scrambling off trails is prohibited. Biking is not allowed on the hiking trails. For your own safety, you must be off the trails by dark. Alcohol is prohibited on all trails. In case of an accident or emergency, please CALL 911.
Visitors can help keep the trails beautiful by removing trash, remaining on trails and refraining from defacing canyon walls.
Visitors to Starved Rock State Park can now take a guided hike on the park’s most popular trails by using this new smartphone app. Download the Prairie State Hike App for just 99 cents.
Fishing and Boating
Boats may be launched from the west end of the park. Also, paddlewheel boat rides are available.
Boats are not allowed within 600 feet of the dam, as strong currents and powerful undertows can be dangerous. Catfish, bullhead, white bass, sauger, walleye, carp and crappie may be caught in the Illinois River. Under no circumstances should you attempt to wade or swim in the river, canyons or from any park shoreline.
Check the IDNR website for Hunter Fact Sheets for hunting programs at Starved Rock, including deer, wild turkey, dove, waterfowl, squirrel and furbearer programs.
Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed at nearby Matthiessen State Park. Cross-country ski rentals are available at Matthiessen Dells Area on weekends December through March. Ski rentals are available through a private concessionaire on weekends only. Pleaes call the park office for more information on ski rental at 1-815-667-4726 for cross country ski updates-weather permitting. Snowmobiling is not allowed anywhere at Starved Rock, but is allowed at the I & M Canal one mile to the north in Utica.
Eagle viewing is a popular winter activity enjoyed by many. The best areas to view eagles are the top of Starved Rock, Eagles Cliff and Lover's Leap Overlooks, and the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.
Ice Climbing is allowed at the park. Climbers must bring their own equipment and have experience ice climbing. Ice climbers climb at their own risk. It is up to the ice climbers to sign in at a self check in station located at the Park Maintenance building off the park road across from the Visitor Center. Sign in sheets as well as rules and regulations are usually posted by January 1st dependant on winter weather conditions. The DNR does not test the ice or post the suitability for climbing, it is up to the climbers themselves. For safety reasons climbers must have a partner to climb-no one can climb alone. Ice climbing is only allowed between 7 a.m. and dusk at the park, all climbers must be off of the trail before dark. Due to on-going damage and creation of unauthorized trails, ice climbing will now be restricted to the following canyons/ice falls: Wildcat, LaSalle, Tonty, and Ottawa Canyons. Climbing outside of these designated areas could result in a fine. The natural resources of the park canyons such as the fraglie sandstone must be protected. Climbers cannot impact the sandstone with riggings, ice cleats, crampons, ice picks, rope, or other harmful climbing equipment. All equipment must touch the ice/ice falls only. No other type of rock climbing or scaling the rock walls or formations is allowed at either Starved Rock or Matthiessen State Parks. Climbing season is now closed for the year as of March 14th, 2019.
Developed picnic areas are available to the day visitor, with tables, drinking water and restroom facilities. Eight shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Alcohol is prohibited January 1 through May 31 in the picnic area. Alcohol is always prohibited on the trails.
Starved Rock's campground has 129 Class-A Premium campsites. All sites are available for reservation. Reservations are made on-line at reserveamerica.com Reservations for regular campsites and youth group sites require a $5.00 non-refundable reservation fee and payment of the full camping and utility fees at the time the reservation is made. Please contact the Visitor Center at 1-815-667-4906 to make Youth Group Reservations. The camping fee for a regular campsite is $25.00 per night unless it is a holiday at which time the campsite fee is $35.00. Alcohol is ALWAYS prohibited in the campground. There is a camp store in the campground that operates seasonally (Usually May 1-Oct. 31) that sells firewood, ice, soda and other camping supplies. Any firewood purchased in LaSalle County cannot leave the county due to the spread of the Gypsy Moth. During firearm deer seasons, the campground will be closed. The campground gates are opened from 8:30 am until 10:00 pm.