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Illinois State Parks

USA Parks
Northern Region
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park Tonty Canyon © Bob Franklin
Starved Rock State Park LaSalle Canyon © Bob Franklin
P.O. Box 509
Utica, Illinois   61373

Phone: 815-667-4726
Reservations: 815-667-4726
Starved Rock State Park is best known for its fascinating rock formations, primarily St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface.

While the areas along the river and its tributaries still are predominantly forested, much of the area is a flat, gently rolling plain. The upland prairies were created during an intensive warming period several thousand years after the melting of the glaciers. The Illinois River Valley in the Starved Rock area is a major contrast to the flatland. The valley was formed by a series of floods as glacial meltwater broke through moraines, sending torrents of water surging across the land and deeply eroding the sandstone and other sedimentary rocks.

During early spring, when the end of winter thaw is occurring and rains are frequent, sparkling waterfalls are found at the heads of all 18 canyons, and vertical walls of moss-covered stone create a setting of natural geologic beauty uncommon in Illinois. Some of the longer-lasting waterfalls are found in French, LaSalle and St. Louis canyons.

Waterfalls, rivers and streams can undercut a cliff, creating overhangs in the sandstone, like Council Overhang at the east end of the park. Other sights can be seen from the bluffs themselves, which provide vantage points for enjoying spectacular vistas. The porous sandstone bluffs allow water to soak quickly through, only to collect in greater quantities on the slopes below. The resulting lush vegetation supports an abundant wildlife and bird population, including woodchucks, moles, vireos and catbirds. Wood ducks that nest in hollow trees occasionally can be seen paddling along the river?s edge. Evidence of beavers and muskrats can be seen as you walk along the River Trail.

Black oak, red cedar and white oak, as well as white pine and white cedar, grow on the drier, sandy bluff tops. Yellowbellied sapsuckers drill parallel rows of small holes on cedar trees and return to feed on sap and small insects. Serviceberry and northern honeysuckle--shrubs that prefer a well-drained area--attract scarlet tangers and cedar waxwings.

Farther away from the bluffs, red oaks and hickories predominate in deeper soils. Typical plants characteristic of the forest floor include the American witch hazel, black huckleberry and bracken fern. Nuthatches and chickadees feed on nuts, seeds and insects found in the bark of trees. Raccoons and flying squirrels spend many hours searching for and gathering berries and nuts.

At the forest edge, bright blue indigo buntings flit through the wild crab apple and plum trees that skirt the former glacial till prairie, while cottontail rabbits scamper through the bluestem and Indian grasses. In the sandy prairie soil, prickly pear cactus grows alongside lead plant, compass plant and rattlesnake master. White-tailed deer come to munch on the sumac, and red-tailed hawks soar overhead in search of voles and field mice.

Throughout spring and summer, wildflowers are as plentiful and varied as they are beautiful. Included in the floral array are colorful lichens and mosses, marsh marigolds, wild iris, trillium and Dutchman?s breeches, plus purple-flowered spiderworts, nodding or orange columbine and the magenta blooms of shooting star.

The poison ivy plant is found in all areas of the park. Its greenish-white berries provide an important food source for birds.
Situated on a high bluff just southwest of the rock itself is the stone and log lodge built in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The lodge has been refurbished, but still reflects the peaceful atmosphere of yesteryear. A new hotel wing has been added and features a registration lobby, an indoor swimming pool, children?s pool, whirlpool, saunas and an outdoor sunning patio.

The lodge offers 72 luxury hotel rooms and 22 comfortable cabin rooms. The original Great Room is furnished with decorative rugs and art and is centered around a massive stone fireplace.

The restaurant is open seven days a week and offers many house specialties. It can accommodate up to 250 people for banquets. The lodge?s conference area can accommodate up to 200 with four smaller meeting rooms also available.

For lodge reservations, call 1-800-868-ROCK (7625) or (815) 667-4211.
Nearby Accommodations
Cottages and Cabins
Within a 10 minute drive from Starved Rock and even closer to Matthiessen State Parks you will find a gorgeous, tranquil property with spacious cabins on 50 wooded acres. All with full kitchens and outdoor fire pits. 3 dog friendly.
8.4 miles from park*
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...
1.3 miles from park*
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. 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.

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.
Horseback Riding and Equestrian Camping

There are equestrian trails and an equestrian campground along Illinois Route 178. Horse rentals are available on weekends in April and November and Wednesday through Sunday from May through October on Route 71, a half-mile west of Illinois Route 178.
Area Attractions
Special Events

Starved Rock State Park is host to a number of enjoyable annual events, including the Winter Wilderness Weekend in January, the Cross-Country Ski Weekend in February, the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in May, the Montreal Canoe Weekend in June and the Fall Colors Weekend in October. There also are scheduled guided hikes most weekends.

Visitor Center

Generally open daily, the visitor center offers displays and exhibits explaining the park?s cultural and natural history. A weekly schedule of activities and hours is posted. Schools and other organized groups may arrange reservations for programs by contacting the center at (815) 667-4906 or writing to Program Coordinator, Starved Rock State Park, PO Box 509, Utica, IL 61373.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
May 27 One of my favorite Parks by Jairocol
We were surprise to find these many beautiful things together:canyons,trails,nature,waterfalls,etc A good place to be with the family,my kids enjoyed and it is close to chicago.
February 19 Pack out what you pack in, inc. yourself by Local hiker
This park is an amazing place to hike and see nature, but please be careful. In the past few months more people are getting hurt, the canyons are deep and if you keep getting closer to edge to see whats down there, well you eventually will, possibly flat on your face. Many city and suburban folks come hiking and think this is a city park not so, and then our emer. personnel have to fish you out of a canyon. Please come and enjoy just be careful, and may i add take your water/ soda bottles, food wrappers, etc. with you there is no personnel time for cleaning the trails after you, you are youre own janitor.
September 7 Great place to enjoy nature by nature man
A great place to spend time with family and friends and definitely get your exercise!Very safe enviroment,as long as you wear gym shoes =)and follow the trails.

Area Campgrounds
Glenwood RV Resort
551 Wilson Street
Marseilles, IL
Troll Hollow Campground
2265 North 2453 Road
Maseilles, IL
Hickory Hollow Campground
757 North 3029 Road
Utica, IL
LaSalle KOA
756 North 3150th Road
Utica, IL
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
You will feel right at home when you reach Carroll County, our corner of beautiful Northwest Illinois. The magnificent Mississippi River and outdoor spaces will refresh your spirit and touch our soul.
83.9 miles from park*


I-39 southbound: South to I-80 east (exit #59). Go 2 miles to exit #81 (Rt. 178, Utica). Go south (right) 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow the signs into the Park.

I-39 northbound: North to Exit #48 (Tonica exit). Go east (right) for approximately 5 miles to the T-intersection, which is Rt. 178. Go north (left) for approximately 5 miles and follow the signs into the Park.

I-80 Eastbound and Westbound: Get off at exit #81 (Rt.178, Utica). Go south 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow the signs into the Park.

From the Chicago area: Take I-294 or I-355 south to I-55. Take I-55 south to I-80. Go west on I-80, 45 miles to Exit #81 (Rt. 178, Utica). Go south (left) 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow the signs into the Park.


Illinois State Parks