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!


Kaley Bolka

Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017

My family of 7 had a great time! The trails are well kept and beautiful. The graffiti is sad but you will get that anywhere you go. The trails are hard at times but very enjoyable. We had an absolute blast here it was amazing! Can't wait to go again! Maybe next time we will go in the spring when there is more waterfalls!

Tiffany Cox

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017

I have been going hiking here since I was a very little girl. It is gorgeous and a lot of fun! Do note it is a lot of stairs, so be prepared for a leg work out. If you can make your way to the canyons not in the main part of the park, that is better because they are less crowded. You'll have to find them as you drive down the road away from the entrance, but they are marked. There can be hundreds of people hiking here at the same time. Every season is spectacular.

Gianna velazquez

Monday, Aug. 14, 2017

Would put zero stars if I could. It is a beautiful place to see, and the trails are amazing. Although, there are wanna be "conservation police" hidden everywhere. My friend took my other two friends and I to the Illinois Canyon (turned out to be a restricted area). There where two rude cops up there issuing tickets left and right. They illegally searched my friends and I (did not ask to search). They told us that we have to be searched due to being in a restricted area (which is not probable cause). They do not care that you came to admire a beautiful place, all they want is your money and to ruin a good time. I will never go back knowing I cannot have my freedom there. WATCH OUT.

Carolyn Szymanski

Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017

If you enjoy walking, hiking, beautiful scenery and views, then you will love this place. There are trails for beginners, moderate, or very hard trails for you to try. Great family place or large groups. They have a visitors center, place to grab a quick bite, ice cream and beverages. Also a shop to get souvenirs. They also have picnic areas and a lodge for longer stays. In July alone, over 400,000 visitors came. It will be beautiful in the fall. Take a trip, it is worth it.

Mrs. R Kleinman

Friday, Aug. 25, 2017

Such interesting and natural beauty less than 2 hours from Chicago!! Beautiful canyons and bluffs. Each hike is unique with its own set of canyons and level of difficulty. Be sure to put a child under 3 in a child carrier hiking backpack as some of the trails have steep and narrow paths (without railings) as you climb up the bluffs from the canyons.