PARK VISITOR COVID GUIDELINES
- Please practice social distancing at all times.
- Masks must be worn when entering any park building, restrooms, or attending a guided tour.
- Masks must be worn when passing others on congested trails and staircases when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Parking lots typically fill and close by 11 a.m. May through October.
- PARKING ALONG ROADWAYS such as Route 71 and 178 is illegal and vehicles will be towed at the owners expense.
- Please follow Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks on Facebook for up to date information on parking closures and openings on busy weekends.
The Visitor Center exhibit hall, park office, and information desk are open Monday through Friday from 9-12 or later depending on staff availabilty. Closed on weekends and holidays.
Le Rocher Gift Store will remain closed until further notice.
Trails that are closed until further notice
(signs will be posted along the trail):
- Owl Canyon Overlook
- Tonti Canyon, Tonti bridge, and Tonti trail from LaSalle Canyon
- Red marked River Trail from Wildcat Canyon to Lonetree Canyon
- Metal Staircase between Lodge and Visitor Center
- Staircase from park's west entrance to lower area/boat ramp
Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois' most beautiful destinations. The park's 18 canyons feature vertical walls of moss-covered stone formed by glacial meltwater that slice dramatically through tree-covered sandstone bluffs. More than 13 miles of trails allow access to waterfalls, fed season runoff or natural springs, sandstone overhangs, and spectacular overlooks. Lush vegetation supports abundant wildlife, while oak, cedar and pine grow on drier, sandy bluff tops.
Recreational opportunities abound, from hiking to camping to fishing, boating and hunting. Special events are scheduled throughout the year. The Starved Rock Visitor Center is open year-round, and the 1930s-era stone and log Starved Rock Lodge offers luxury lodging, cabin rooms, and fine dining. For lodge reservations, call 1-800-868-ROCK (800-868-7625) or 815-667-4211, or visit the lodge website
Starved Rock State Park's cultural history can be traced to 8000 B.C., with Native Americans tribes and European explorers documenting villages and encampments near the park along the banks of the Illinois River. The park's name is derived from a Native American legend of a band of Illiniwek who died of starvation atop the 125-foot sandstone butte.
This area has been home to humans from as early as 8000 B.C. Hopewellian, Woodland and Mississippian Native American cultures thrived here. The most recent and probably the most numerous group of Native Americans to live here was the Illinois, from the 1500s to the 1700s. Approximately 5,000 to 7,000 Kaskaskias, a subtribe of the Illinois, had a village extending along the bank of the Illinois River across from the current park.
In 1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette passed through here on their way up the Illinois from the Mississippi. Known as “Pere,” the French word for “Father,” Marquette returned two years later to found the Mission of the Immaculate Conception-Illinois’ first Christian mission-at the Kaskaskia Indian village.
When the French claimed the region (and, indeed, the entire Mississippi Valley), they built Fort St. Louis atop Starved Rock in the winter of 1682-83 because of its commanding strategic position above the last rapids on the Illinois River. Pressured from small war parties of Iroquois in the French and Indian wars, the French abandoned the fort by the early 1700s and retreated to what is now Peoria, where they established Fort Pimitoui. Fort St. Louis became a haven for traders and trappers, but by 1720 all remains of the fort had disappeared.
Starved Rock State Park derives its name from a Native American legend of injustice and retribution. In the 1760s, Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa tribe upriver from here, was slain by a Peoria brave (sub tribe of the Illinois) while attending a tribal council in southern Illinois. According to the legend, during one of the battles that subsequently occurred to avenge his killing, a band of Illinois, under attack by a band of Potawatomi (allies of the Ottawa), sought refuge atop a 125-foot sandstone butte. The Ottawa and Potawatomi surrounded the bluff and held their ground until the hapless Illinois died of starvation- giving rise to the name “Starved Rock.”
The Illinois State Parks Commission was initially headquartered in Starved Rock State Park after the park was purchased in 1911.