The Dells Area of the Matthiessen State Park provides a perfect setting for picnics and an afternoon of relaxation. This area has picnic tables, water fountains, and playground equipment, as well as a large parking lot and toilet facilities. An added attraction is the restored fort, representative of the fortifications the French built in the Midwest during the 1600s and early 1700s. The main trail to the Cascade Falls area originates in this area.
To the south, at the Vermilion River Area, additional picnic shelters, picnic tables, grills, and drinking fountains provide convenient picnic facilities.
Alcohol is prohibited from January 1 through May 31 in the picnic area.
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 (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 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 it 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 liability insurance is obtained, the insurance certificate must show Natural Resources as additionally insured (policyholder) and must show the activity location (site/area/name).