Starved Rock Activities

We hope you enjoy your stay.
Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.

Visitor Center Hours


  • Daily 9-4.


  • Election Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day 
  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • Lincoln's Birthday
  • President's Day

The visitor center offers displays and exhibits on the park’s cultural and natural history.

A schedule of programs, guided tours, and special events can be found under the EVENTS tab.

Families, homeschool groups, school groups, and youth group organizations such as Scouts may visit the INTERPRETIVE tab for further information on specialty programs such as guided tours, programming, teacher resource packets, and the Junior Ranger program.

What Isn't Allowed at the Park? 

Fines begin at $195. 

  • Camping is prohibited outside of the state campground.

  • Rock climbing, rappelling, and scaling the sandstone features including the canyon walls.

  • Ground fires outside of the state campground.

  • Bicycles, scooters, skates, skateboards, and similar items.

  • Hiking after dark. 

  • Alcohol and any intoxicating substances.  (Alcohol is only allowed in the picnic area from June 1-December 31).

  • Drones and metal detecting.

  • Removal of historical artifacts, rocks, plants, flowers, trees, or wildlife. 

  • Swimming, wading, or sliding in any body of water including the river, canyon creeks, and waterfalls.
  • Picnicking outside of the designated picnic area.  
  • Litter!

Please practice Leave No Trace by packing out all of the items that you take with you including 

snack bags, candy wrappers, clothing, wipes, diapers, and beverage containers!!

Activity Permits (REQUIRED-any group of 20 or more people)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Land Management requires any group of 20 or more persons who use Department facilities to have advance written permission from the Site Superintendent.

Regardless of group size, the Department may require additional liability coverage to be provided through an Activity Permit. Release of Liability can be used if your organization, family, or school does not have liability insurance. Site managers may deny the request if the facilities are not adequate to handle the size of the group if public health or safety might be compromised, if the liability risk to the Department is too great or if there would be adverse impacts on natural resources at the site.

Activity Permits are to be used whenever a non-traditional use of any facility is requested (for example - a family reunion in the picnic area) and/or any activity that might increase potential liability to the Department (for example - search and rescue teams practicing on rock faces). These requests need to be made at least 21 days in advance of the activity and forwarded to the Regional Office for processing.

A Permit to Sell is needed if food or goods are sold, fees are charged, or when money changes hands in any manner among the organizers, spectators, and/or participants.

Activity Permit 

Release of Liability 

Permit To Sell

Guidelines for completing Activity Permits

1.  Complete the Activity Permit at least 2-3 weeks prior to the scheduled visit. 

2.  Acquire Proof of Liability Insurance (business, school, or organization can ask their administrator or main office) or have each participant sign the Release of Liability Form ahead of time. 

3.  Email, mail, or drop off the completed Activity Permit and Proof of Liability Insurance together (or, Release of Liability) to at least 2-3 weeks prior to the scheduled visit.  

Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center

PO Box 509

Utica, IL 61373

4.  The Site Superintendent will respond within 2 weeks from the time the permit was handed in with an approval or denial of the group visit through email ( or phone at 1-815-667-4726.

Hiking Information and Trail Suggestions

Exploring the majestic bluffs and canyons is the park’s primary attraction, and there are 13 miles of well-marked trails to help you enjoy them. The trails are open all year from 7 a.m. until sunset.

Hikers must exercise extreme caution and stay on marked trails= Brown, Green, or Red

Trail maps are located at all trail access points, intersections, and parking lots at the park along with brown directional signs that list the various features such as the canyons. 

  • In case of an accident or emergency, please CALL 911. Red QR Codes are posted by or on every trail map along trail intersections and parking lots at the park.

  • Dogs are allowed at the park as long as they are kept on a leash, their owners pick up after them and dispose of waste in trash cans, and provide them adequate water while on the trail. Do not let your dog drink out of the canyon waterfalls, creeks, or Illinois River.

Trail Suggestions: Average person hikes 1 mile every 30-45 minutes. Please take into consideration the number of major staircases located at the park. 

There are no ADA compliable trails (accessible by car or wheelchair) into the park's canyons or overlooks due to the topography.

Trail Suggestion Videos

Visitors to Starved Rock State Park can now take a guided hike on the park’s most popular trails by using this new smartphone app. Download the Prairie State Hike App for just 99 cents.

Apple Store Google Play

Fishing and Boating

Boats may be launched from the west end of the park. 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. Under no circumstances should you attempt to wade or swim in the river, canyon creeks, or from any park shoreline.


Kayak rentals at Starved Rock State Park are operated by a private concessionaire, Kayak Starved Rock. Kayaking typically begins in May and lasts through September. Please call 630-567-4653 or email to book your kayak rental today!


Check the IDNR website for further information on hunting programs at Starved Rock; including deer, wild turkey, dove, waterfowl, squirrel, and furbearer programs. For more information, please review the Hunter Fact Sheet or call the Park Ranger in charge of hunting programs at park M-F at 815-667-5351 and leave a message and your call will be returned. 

Winter Activities

Ice Climbing is allowed at the park. Climbers must bring their own equipment and have experience in ice climbing. Ice climbers climb at their own risk. Please view the Ice Climbing Brochure for further information, rules, and regulations.

Starved Rock Ice Climbing.pdf


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 from January 1 through May 31 in the picnic area. Alcohol is prohibited on the trails all year round.

Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center

The Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center is operated by a private concessionaire. Please visit to view information on dining, lodging, trolley and boat tours, and shows.

Tourism Information

To find local attractions and restaurants, please visit or contact the Heritage Corridor Tourism Bureau at


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.
While groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.