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!


Laura Kelley

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Drove from the St Louis area for a short weekend getaway, and it was not a disappointment. We didn't stay at the lodge, but we did eat 2 meals there, and both times the food and service were excellent. The hiking trails are well maintained and clearly marked. It is a bit of a challenge with all the stairs up and down,but even my 4 years old nephew did great on the hike. We will definitely go back and stay at the Lodge.

Star S

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It is by far one of the greatest sights in Illinois! Even better if you come when the season for the eagles are there. Hiking at its best. Or just walk the stairs if that is what you prefer. They give the history of the land and have artifacts. If you appreciate the worlds past, this is a must see! Plus, they have great food, cocktails, and service.


Friday, April 14, 2017

I'll be honest, I hadn't heard of this place. I'm not much of a hiking or outdoorsy person. This park however is very well kept with clean and clear defined trails. You do have to keep inside the trail path. Lots of people come here, hikers along with families and children so it seems there is something for everyone. No such thing as handicapped friendly trails though.

Jerry Mead-Lucero

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Starved Rock is probably Northern Illinois' most famous state park and for good reason. In this region of flat corn fields, the canyons, cliffs and waterfalls of Starved Rock are a unique escape from the ordinary. However, that fame and beauty has a cost. Starved Rock is very crowded most of the time. Especially in warmer months. Weekends should be avoided, unless your idea of experiencing nature is quite literally stumbling over other visitors and standing in line to access viewpoints and trails. To get away from the worst of the crowds I recommend hiking the trails furthest away from the lodge and main entrance, at the parks far east end. These trails are some of the parks best and are usually less overrun by visitors. The lodge is a nice place for dinner. Decent food. The waterfalls, one of the parks most interesting features, dry out, especially in late Summer. Probably the best time to visit is in late Spring, early Summer after a recent rain. Park is also beautiful and less crowded in Winter after a snow fall.

Jason Gallivan

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Well groomed, paved trails. Good information centers and maps throughout. The best scenery. Great for all ages to get out and explore. Catch the birds of prey class twice a day at the visitors center. Will return and recommended .