Discover Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Welcome to Starved Rock State Park, an Illinois gem along the scenic Illinois River. Renowned for its breathtaking sandstone canyons, towering bluffs, and cascading waterfalls, Starved Rock offers a pristine natural escape just a short drive from Chicago.

Discover over 13 miles of well-maintained trails that wind through lush forests and lead to panoramic overlooks, where the sweeping views of the river valley below are nothing short of spectacular. During your visit, immerse yourself in the park’s rich history, from the legends of Native American tribes to the pioneer-era tales that echo through its rugged terrain.

Whether planning a day trip or an extended stay, Starved Rock State Park invites you to explore its natural wonders and create lasting memories in the heart of Illinois’ wilderness.


Top 3 Facts about Starved Rock State Park


Historic Significance

Starved Rock derives its name from a Native American legend of a group of Illiniwek (Illinois) tribe members who sought refuge atop the rock during a siege, ultimately perishing due to starvation.


Waterfall Wonderland

The park boasts 18 canyons with unique rock formations and seasonal waterfalls. LaSalle Canyon and St. Louis Canyon are particularly famous for their picturesque waterfalls, attracting visitors year-round.


Abundant Wildlife

Starved Rock is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and various bird species. Birdwatchers especially enjoy visiting during the spring and fall migrations.

Where to Sleep

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Mason Street Getaway

555 Mason St, Saugatuck, MI 49453, USA
Number of Guests 5
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 2
Sq Footage 1,165
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$475.00 / day
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JP Rest House

V262+C5P, Manikganj, Bangladesh
Number of Guests 4
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 4
Sq Footage 2,400
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$300.00 / day
sparkles New

Juniper Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$198.00 / day

Hemlock Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$194.14 / day

Greenash Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Dogwood Cabin

3601 Monck Road,Kawartha Lakes,ON,CA,K0M 2L0
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 2
$182.42 / day

Camping and transportation in Starved Rock State Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is conveniently located less than 100 miles southwest of Chicago, making it a favorite outdoor destination. If you’re driving, your adventure begins when you hit the road.

  • Driving from Chicago: Take I-55 S to I-80 W, exit at IL-178 and follow signs to the park.
  • From Ottawa: A mere 15-minute drive via IL-71 W will bring you to your nature getaway.
  • From LaSalle: Enjoy a 20-minute journey east on IL-71 E to the park’s entrance.

Places to Stay Near Starved Rock State Park

There are several options for lodging in and around Starved Rock State Park, catering to various preferences and budgets:

  1. Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center: Located within the park, this historic lodge offers rustic charm with modern amenities. Accommodations range from cozy lodge rooms to cabins and luxury suites, providing easy access to hiking trails and park attractions.
  2. Camping: Starved Rock State Park offers both tent and RV camping facilities. The park features several campgrounds, including electric hookups and facilities like showers and restrooms, ideal for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.
  3. Utica and Ottawa: Nearby towns such as Utica and Ottawa offer a range of lodging options, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. These options provide convenient access to the park while offering additional amenities and dining choices.
  4. Cabins and Vacation Rentals: For a more secluded stay, consider renting a cabin or vacation home near Starved Rock. Many properties offer scenic views and private amenities, perfect for families or groups looking to relax after exploring the park.
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Best Time to Go to Starved Rock State Park



Summer is the busiest time at Starved Rock State Park. The lush greenery and abundant sunshine make this season perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and boating on the Illinois River. Trails are generally dry and easily accessible, allowing visitors to explore all corners of the park. However, weekends can be crowded, so planning early or visiting during weekdays can provide a more serene experience. Be prepared for warm temperatures and humidity, especially in July and August, and consider enjoying early morning or evening hikes to beat the heat.



Winter brings a unique charm to Starved Rock State Park. The park quiets as snow blankets the landscape, offering a peaceful atmosphere for winter hiking, cross-country skiing, and eagle-watching along the Illinois River. Frozen waterfalls and icicles dangling from canyon walls create a magical sight, especially after a fresh snowfall. While temperatures can be cold, with occasional sub-freezing days, dressing warmly and enjoying the serene beauty of a snowy landscape can make for a memorable visit. Lodging options at the lodge provide cozy accommodations, perfect for warming up after a day of exploring the winter wonderland of Starved Rock.



Spring is a wonderful time to visit Starved Rock State Park as nature awakens from winter. The park bursts into life during this season with vibrant wildflowers carpeting the forest floor and along the canyon trails. Waterfalls, fed by spring rains and melting snow, are at their fullest, creating spectacular cascades in canyons like St. Louis and LaSalle. The weather is generally mild and pleasant for hiking, with temperatures ranging from cool to warm, making it an ideal time to explore the park’s diverse landscapes and witness the reemergence of wildlife.

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Must-See Attractions

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Starved Rock

The park’s namesake, Starved Rock, offers a commanding view of the Illinois River and surrounding woodlands. Accessible via a moderate hike, this sandstone butte provides panoramic vistas that are particularly stunning during sunrise or sunset.


Starved Rock State Park is known for its seasonal waterfalls, two of the most famous at St. Louis Canyon and LaSalle Canyon. These waterfalls cascade down moss-covered rock formations and are especially picturesque after a rainfall or during the spring thaw.


The park features 18 sandstone canyons with unique geological formations and lush vegetation. Visitors can explore these canyons via well-maintained hiking trails, such as those leading to Wildcat Canyon and Ottawa Canyon, which offer opportunities for wildlife viewing and serene natural beauty.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Starved Rock State Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Before you go, check the park’s website for trail maps, current conditions, and any alerts or closures. This will help you plan your itinerary and ensure you make the most of your visit.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Many trails at Starved Rock involve uneven terrain and stairs. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction to ensure comfort and safety while exploring.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Keep a respectful distance from wildlife and avoid feeding them. Stay on designated trails to protect fragile ecosystems and minimize your impact on the environment.

Stay Informed

Stay Hydrated and Pack Snacks

Carry plenty of water, especially during warmer months, to stay hydrated on the trails. Packing snacks like energy bars or trail mix can provide sustenance during longer hikes.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock gets its name from a Native American legend of Illiniwek tribe members who were besieged atop the rock and eventually starved to avoid capture.

Yes, Starved Rock State Park is known for its seasonal waterfalls. Some of the notable ones include those at St. Louis Canyon, LaSalle Canyon, and French Canyon.

Swimming is not allowed in the Illinois River or any of the park’s canyons due to safety concerns and the preservation of natural habitats.

The waterfalls are most impressive during the spring thaw or after heavy rainfall. Typically, late winter to early spring is the best time to see them flowing at their fullest.

Yes, Starved Rock State Park offers both tent and RV camping facilities. There are several campgrounds with amenities such as showers, restrooms, and picnic tables.

Yes, bald eagles can be spotted along the Illinois River during the winter months. Eagle watching is a popular activity from December through February.

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