We pulled up to the lodge just as a falconer was beginning a free one-hour tutorial on the art of falconry. We quickly parked and joined about 50 other people sitting in a small outdoor arena for the exhibit. The falconer was interesting and his three trained birds of prey were fascinating to observe up close. We hoped to see them fly but that didn't happen. Unfortunately, the falconer didn't have a microphone and, with all the noise of cars, lawnmowers, etc., it was hard to hear him. The extreme heat and humidity caused a woman sitting next to us to faint. An ambulance was called, the woman was revived and we headed into the lodge to check in.
We'd booked three rooms at $125 each. The rooms were all adjacent to each other with two of them connected via an interior door. Check-in was quick and easy. We were sent to the old, original wing of the hotel. This is the lodge I remember going to as a kid. Long, old hallways with wooden doors and trim. We peeked into open rooms and saw lots of paneling covering the walls. The rooms were fairly small with dated furniture. Pictures from yesteryear hung throughout. As we neared the end of the hall, we noted that our room numbers didn't exist here. A housekeeper informed us that we were in the wrong wing and sent us back down the hall and into the "new" portion of the lodge. Dating to the 1980's, this "new" wing was adjacent to an indoor pool. One of our rooms had a window that looked directly over this enclosed pool area. Interesting. The rooms were very cold when we entered. The air conditioning worked well, which was great as it was 100 degrees in the shade outside. That was about the only positive aspect of the rooms. None of the bathroom doors in any of the rooms closed all the way and the bathrooms were in need of TLC. The exhaust fan in ours was filthy and the tiles were in need of repair. The decor was weary with rectangular shadows above the beds where pictures must have once hung and bedspreads in need of cleaning. There were no blankets on the beds and we cringed at the thought of using the dingy bedspreads for warmth. That said, we all slept well in these rooms and didn't hear any outside noise. Not even from the pool area right below us.
We headed out for a hike to Starved Rock. The trail to Starved Rock is just behind the restaurant. It isn't really a trail but steps that initially go down to an open area. In the open area was an array of emergency vehicles. An injured, bleeding man sat on the back of an ambulance. We hurried our kids past the commotion and headed up a number of flights of stairs to the top of Starved Rock. There is a platform that circles the top of the Rock and we walked around it taking in the scenic views. It was nice. Our journey back down the stairs offered a new dramatic view. Police were handcuffing a young man and escorting several other young adults to various squad cars. Not exactly the kind of activity we wanted our kids to witness while on vacation. We soon learned that a group of highly intoxicated hikers had wandered off-trail. Two individuals had fallen off a cliff, one was critically injured. Welcome to Starved Rock!
This incident did make our children much more cautious on the trails, which was good. But the trails are well marked and you'd have to make an effort to venture off of them. So we felt very safe. In fact, the area where the hikers fell was one of our favorite trails. It's called French Canyon and while the lack of rain meant that no water was cascading down the walls, the canyon was truly amazing to view. The day was extremely hot and that shortened the amount of hiking we did but we enjoyed the trails we did venture on. One disappointment, though, was the amount of garbage left everywhere. Very sad that people are so disrespectful of nature.
We did make use of the pool. The kids enjoyed it though the room was really hot and the water was warm. Not so much fun for the adults in our party who were looking for a refreshing dip.
We took the trolley tour, which was air conditioned and enjoyable. The trolley stops at the visitor's center, which we had fun walking through. Less exciting was the very hot and fairly dull river cruise. Not much to see and, sadly, the shores were littered with garbage.
If you have kids, they'll be able to stay entertained on the trolley but they'll hate the river cruise. It's super slow and boring. Plus, you have to stay seated as there is no room to walk around. This is a senior adventure and even tedious for many in that age group.
We loved the dining experience at the lodge. The rustic main dining room is beautiful and the food is good. The service was attentive and special diets were handled with ease.
Overall, we were really glad we visited Starved Rock. If we went back, we'd go at a cooler time of year and, perhaps, make it a day trip rather than an overnight. The history of this national park is fascinating and deserving of preservation and proper care.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.