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USA Parks
Illinois
Northern Region
Buffalo Rock State Park
BUFFALO ROCK STATE PARK
BUFFALO ROCK STATE PARK
P.O. Box 2034 1300 North 27th Road
Ottawa, Illinois   61350

Phone: 815-433-2220
Email:
Buffalo Rock State Park

Buffalo Rock State Park

Buffalo Rock State Park is located on a bluff which was once an island in the Illinois River. Now standing majestically on the north bank, this promontory affords a magnificent sweeping view of the Illinois River. Located approximately three miles west of Ottawa in LaSalle County, this 298 acre park has long been a favorite picnic area, as well as a nature lovers delight. The area of Buffalo Rock was the home of the Illinois Indians when Louis Jolliet, the French explorer, and the Jesuit missionary priest Father Jacques Marquette made their trip up the Illinois River in 1673. Later the Illinois Tribe was virtually annihilated in protracted warfare with the aggressive Iroquois.
Nature of the Area
Titled "Effigy Tumuli" in tribute to the Native American burial grounds that inspired it, this unique "earth art" depicts five sculptures native to the Illinois River. The Effigy Tumuli was the vision of artist Michael Heizer who created the sculptures of a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and a water strider. To better appreciate the sculptures, it is best to look first from a distance and then walk around on top of them to better understand the effigies.

Two American bison call Buffalo Rock home. Their pen and grazing area is located across from the baseball diamond and they can be seen daily.
History of the Area
Buffalo Rock is said to have served the French as an early military, trading and missionary post. LaSalle and Tonty, after building Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock during the winter of 1882-1883 gathered almost 4,000 Indian warriors at the front of Buffalo Rock and formed a confederation against the Iroquois. Among the tribes in the confederation were the Miami who built their own fort on Buffalo Rock.

Through the many years that followed, Buffalo Rock was used by a religious sect as a place for holding camp meetings, and still later was used as a site for a tuberculosis sanatorium. The Crane Company of Chicago purchased Buffalo Rock in 1912 and for a period of about 16 years maintained a sanatorium for sick employees and a summer vacation ground for thousands of employees and their families. In 1927 the Crane Company moved their recreation park to a larger area and donated the land to the state to become a park. The deed to the property was turned over to the State of Illinois on November 15, 1928, with the provision that it would become a permanent state park and that the caretaker, Robert Barnett, who was then 72 years of age, be retained in that capacity during the remainder of his lifetime as a reward for his loyal services.
Camping
There are three primitive camping areas along the trail between Buffalo Rock and Utica. The campsites have fire rings but no water or restroom facilities are available. Sites are accessible by walk or bike in only, no vehicular access is allowed. One of the camping areas designed for youth camping has a shelter with a fireplace. Permits must be obtained from Buffalo Rock State Park prior to camping.
Nearby Accommodations
Starved Rock Lodge Conference Center - Oglesby, ILHotels/Motels
Relax in the rustic beauty and comfort of Starved Rock Lodge, Cabins and Starved Rock Inn. The historic Lodge has 69 guest rooms, which include three bay-window rooms, plus cabins nestled in the woods. Fireplaces can be found in four of the eight sunset cabins near the pool area...
4.3 miles from park*
Kishauwau Country Cabins - Tonica, ILCottages and Cabins
Rental luxury cabins for weekend, weeknight, or all-week getaways. 17 cabins with full kitchens, personal outdoor firepits, and secluded living await you for your anniversary, family reunion, honeymoon, or other special occasion. Located under 10 minutes from Starved Rock State Park.
10.9 miles from park*


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Picnicking
The picnic areas that are shaded by mature oak, hickory and walnut trees provide the perfect setting for a family picnic or special outdoor occasion. Picnic tables and cooking grills are provided. Drinking water and restroom facilities are located near both shelters. The larger of the two shelters complete with a large stone fireplace may be reserved, the smaller shelter is on a first-come, first-serve basis. A playground area is located by the large shelter and a baseball diamond is located near the center of the park. A great game of horseshoes can also be enjoyed during your visit.
Trails
The River Bluff Trail offers a walk high above the Illinois River with two observation decks with spectacular views of the Illinois River. The Woodland Trail provides an opportunity for close-up of the trees, plants and wildlife prospering in the park.

Just across the road from Buffalo Rock State park is the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail Buffalo Rock Access area. This area provides parking for approximately seven vehicles. Water and restroom facilities are not available at this site.
Nature Programs
Titled "Effigy Tumuli" in tribute to the Native American burial grounds that inspired it, this unique "earth art" depicts five sculptures native to the Illinois River. The Effigy Tumuli was the vision of artist Michael Heizer who created the sculptures of a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and a water strider. To better appreciate the sculptures, it is best to look first from a distance and then walk around on top of them to better understand the effigies.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
May 30 Great area to walk around!
Very clean and well kept. Great for picnics and walking around and viewing the effigies. Great views of the river. Nice area and well kept for viewing the animals. Love to stop here.
August 18 You guys do great work by Richard from Ottawa
Is there someway of moving an old CCC shelter to the Buffalo Rock entrance across the street or to the Boyce Drive entrance? The poor thing is on the north side of the canal about 1/2 mile past campground C. It is restorable in my opinion. It would look super in either location.


Area Campgrounds

Glenwood RV Resort
551 Wilson Street
Marseilles, IL
815-795-6000


Troll Hollow Campground
2265 North 2453 Road
Maseilles, IL
815-795-2537


Hickory Hollow Campground
757 North 3029 Road
Utica, IL
815-667-4996


LaSalle KOA
756 North 3150th Road
Utica, IL


Area Accommodations (over 15 miles away)
White Pines Inn - Mt Morris, ILCottages and Cabins
Located within White Pines Forest State Park in Northwestern Illinois, hidden away in a place that seems like time forgot, discover the historic lodge restaurant, pioneer guest cabins, delightful country gift shop, and entertaining dinner theatre.
Web Site: whitepinesinn.com
57.8 miles from park*
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Directions
From Ottawa: From Rte. 6 turn south on W.D. Boyce Memorial Dr. Continue on Boyce to Ottawa Ave. and turn right. Proceed on Ottawa Ave., which becomes Dee Bennett Rd for approximately three miles, the park is located on the left and the I&M Canal Access area is on the right.

From Utica: Take Dee Bennett Rd. east five miles to Buffalo Rock.

USA Parks
Illinois
Northern Region
Buffalo Rock State Park
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