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Starved Rock Activities

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

Visitor Center Hours

OPEN:

  • April-November: Monday through Sunday from 9-4.
  • December - March:
    • Mondays through Fridays, 3rd and 4th Saturdays and Sundays, from 9-4
    • 1st and 2nd Sundays and 2nd Saturdays, from 10-4.

ClOSED:

  • Election Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • New Years Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • 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, educators, and scout leaders may visit the INTERPRETIVE tab for further information on specialty programs for youth, including the Junior Ranger Program.

Activity Permits

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 (Activity Permit) permission from the Site Superintendent or Site Manager.

Regardless of group size, the Department may require additional liability coverage be provided through an Activity Permit. Release of Liability can be used if your organization, family, 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 to natural resources at the site.

As a general rule, the Activity Permit is to be used for groups of 20 or more requesting traditional recreational use (for that site) of any facility (shelter, picnic area, etc.). Site managers have authority to grant or deny these permits.

Activity Permits are to be used whenever a non-traditional use of any facility is requested (example - a family reunion in the picnic area) and/or any activity that might increase potential liability to the Department (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 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.

Guidelines for completing Activity Permits

The individual(s) or group (Permittee) requesting the activity must complete and sign the Activity Permit and submit to the Site Superintendent at least 21 days prior to the event. This requirement can be waived at the discretion of the Site Superintendent. Email DNR.Starvedrock@illinois.gov.

If activity requires set-up or wrap-up on site, include those dates in the permit the Permittee must provide additional liability protection (see item 5 of permit).

If liability insurance is obtained, the insurance certificate must show Natural Resources as additionally insured (policy holder) and must show the activity location (site/area/name).

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 to stay on official trails.

To keep you oriented, trail maps are located at all trail access points, intersections, and parking lots at the park.

  • Camping is prohibited outside of the state campground.

  • Rock climbing, rapelling, and scaling the sandstone features including the canyon walls is prohibited.

  • Ground fires outside of the state campground are prohibited.

  • 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.

  • Biking is not allowed on the hiking trails at Starved Rock State Park.

  • Trails close at sunset and all hikers must be off of the trail system before dark.

  • Alcohol is prohibited on all trails.

  • Drones are prohibited in all areas of the park.

  • Swimming in the Illinois River, canyon creeks, canyon pools, or waterfalls is prohibited.

  • 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.

Trail Suggestions: Average person hikes 1 mile every 30-45 minutes. Please take into consideration the amount of major staircases located at the park. There are no ADA compliable trails 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 StoreGoogle 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.

Kayaking

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 kayakstarvedrock@gmail.com to book your kayak rental today!

Hunting

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. Please call 1-815-667-4726 for hunting updates or trail closures during the hunting season.

Winter Activities

Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed at nearby Matthiessen State Park. Please check Utica or Oglesby weather forecasts before heading out. Please contact the "Do It, To It" Ski Shop directly for hours of operation at 815-343-9014 or 815-343-7125.

Ice Climbing is allowed at the park. Climbers must bring their own equipment and have experience 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

Picnicking

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 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 https://www.starvedrocklodge.com to view information on dining, lodging, tours, and more.

Tourism Information

To find local attractions and restaurants, please visit www.enjoylasallecounty.com or contact the Heritage Corridor Tourism Bureau at http://heritagecorridorcvb.com/

Directions

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.