Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park
4.5
About
Known for its magnificent rock formations of St. Peter sandstone, this scenic park offers many hiking and horseback riding trails plus fishing and boating along the banks of the Illinois River.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
1,599 reviews
Excellent
1,027
Very good
410
Average
115
Poor
27
Terrible
20

Taylor B
Chicago, IL8,100 contributions
Aug 2022
Starved Rock State Park was opened to the public in 1912. For the next 30 years, it was accessible only by ferry or railroad. When Illinois Route 71 was opened in 1942, it allowed automotive access from Chicago. Even today, located southeast of Utica, along the south bank of the Illinois River, 94 miles southwest of Chicago, nine miles east of Peru, it seems remote. But it attracts over two million visitors annually, more than any other state park in Illinois. Open from sunrise to sunset daily, with no entrance fee to enter the park or for parking, the park is steeped with history and beauty. Archaeological evidence reveals the park was occupied by prehistoric indigenous people dating to 11,000 BC. Europeans first explored the region in 1673. Why is it named Starved Rock? Around 1770, Illiniwek Indians were besieged on a large sandstone butte overlooking the Illinois River by Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians. The Illiniwek starved to death and the butte became known as Starved Rock. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The park covers 2,630 acres of wilderness on the Illinois River, a major tributary of the Mississippi River, that is known for steep sandstone canyons, waterfalls and unique rock formations formed by glacial meltwater. A wooded trail leads to Lover's Leap Overlook with views of the river and Starved Rock Dam. Today, visitors can stay at the 78-room Starved Rock Lodge and Cabins.
Written August 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

KAdventuRA
Palos Heights, IL10 contributions
Aug 2020 • Family
After reading several recent reviews, we decided to arrive early on a Sunday morning to avoid crowds. We arrived at about 8:45am and the parking lot was already about 33% full.

We brought face masks due to the pandemic, and these were important when we were on narrow trails where it was impossible to maintain physical distance from oncoming parties. Interestingly, everyone we encountered for the first hour and a half was wearing a mask (or put one on when we drew close). As the day progressed, it got increasingly busier and less people wore masks. My assumption based on this one-day experience is that people who want to avoid close proximity with others due to the COVID pandemic are more likely to hit the trails early, and they are also therefore more likely to wear masks. So, if you are trying to stay safe, I would recommend going early.

We hiked the canyon trails—French, Wildcat, and Lasalle. The last two were particularly gorgeous (as another reviewer has mentioned). The scale of the canyons was beyond anything we had imagined based on photos. It grew progressively hotter as the day went on, reaching 97 degrees by the time we left (around 12:30). This reinforced to us that early morning really is the best time to go during the summer.

My husband and I had our two kids with us (7 and 3). We spent about 3.5 hours on the trails, including lots of breaks for exploring, snacks, and pictures. The kids did great, but they are adventurous and love hiking.
Written August 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cassadrea H
11 contributions
Sep 2022
We came here for a mini-vacation, and it was totally worth it. The scenery was breathtaking. St. Louis Canyon was my favorite spot. We will definitely come back when it's more of a rainy season. This was a very dry year, so the waterfalls were not flowing.
Written October 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Natalie
1 contribution
Jul 2020
Probably my fault for going on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a pandemic, but this place is a trash dump. 1 in maybe 50 people even bothered to wear masks on crowded trails. There’s litter everywhere. The bathrooms are the grossest I have ever seen. And everywhere, no matter where I went, there was some selfish jerk blasting music on a portable boom box. It seems like people are given free rein to treat the place like garbage and there aren’t any staff there to enforce the rules. Why don’t they charge even a small admission? If they did, maybe that would deter people from coming to hang out and trash the place. It might also pay for rangers on the trails so that people actually face consequences for disrespecting the site and other visitors. As it stands, it seems like the people of this state are perfectly happy treating one of their geological wonders like a trashy amusement park, and given that there are so few places like this within easy driving distance of Chicago, that's a real shame. It makes me wonder what other natural sites in this state have been ruined by mismanagement.
Written July 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

WinfieldRDH
Winfield, IL929 contributions
Jul 2020
Went last weekend and I do not recommend going on a weekend until the Covid-19 crisis is over. Very crowded, no distancing- people seemed totally unaware that a global pandemic is happening. No wonder Illinois rates are rising. Even in public areas where masks are supposedly required, less than 1/2 of those in the buildings were masked and only about 10% of those hiking and you are literally right on top of another person much of the time
Too bad we do not have actual safety laws in place and that most of Illinois is refusing to abide by mandates.
Might be better on a weekday, it's a truly beautiful park and should be able to be enjoyed by everyone without risking their health
Written July 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tenof10
Pittsburgh, PA187 contributions
Jul 2022
We are not avid hikers but we did hike from the Visitor's Center to the lookout point on Starved Rock. This part of the properly has been very nicely laid out so that once you tackle several steps up to the lookout points you can gradually weave yourself around from lookout point to lookout point and then come down a flight of steps that lead back to where you started. This area is not very far from the parking lot so it is a very easy hike to do. From the map provided it seems that most of the trails follow along the river's edge.
Written July 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

John Y
3 contributions
Jul 2022
My wife and I camped at the campground the week of July 4, 2022. We've been there several times so we knew what to expect, or so we thought. The park has a "run down" feeling to it. Supposedly one of Illinois' best parks, some trails were closed, signage was poor or missing; it just looked poorly maintained. The campground was ok but the camp store was never open on the days we were there. Overall disappointed. I think the whoever in the State of Illinois government is in charge of Starved Rock SP should take a trip over to Indiana and see how it's should be done right. Over there they charge a small fee per car to get into their parks, like Indiana Dunes or Turkey run. Most people don't mind paying when the park is well cared far. Illinois doesn't charge a fee and it shows.
Written September 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Elaine A
Chicago, IL16 contributions
Jul 2020
I'm going to defend Starved Rock even though I was pissed to be turned away after a long drive and without warning on their website. I would recommend to come back to Starved Rock early and during a weekday for now. Mother Nature, Pandemic and lack of Illinois funding are reasons for the recent bad reviews. Trails everywhere are populated by people I don't usually see, but have no where else to go? Maybe in lieu of a vacation, parks are being flocked as an escape more than a genuine love of the outdoors. In better times, it's beautiful with fantastic trails. Even the visitor's center can be a great hang after a long day hiking. I've had great family stays here both in the Pioneer Cabins and the Lodge. BUT, this was years ago. Don't let this deter you from coming back to this gem. Just plan ahead and expect things to not be normal right now. I hope the state takes time to improve this place.
Written September 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

tigrr49
Chicago, IL212 contributions
Mar 2021
Took about 3 - 3.5 hours to hike from visitor's center down to LaSalle Canyon while hitting Starved Rock, French Canyon, Wildcat Canyon, LaSalle Canyon, Eagle Cliff Overlook, and Lover's Leap Overlook in that order. French Canyon is pretty (sunlight glistened off the water onto the canyon walls) and most accessible but it also crowded for that reason. The waterfall at Wildcat was a small trickle compared to the others but it's also very high which is cool. LaSalle Canyon was definitely worth the hike especially since you can walk behind the waterfall for some cool photos.

I would not recommend for young children (mine are 8 and 10) to do the whole distance we did. My kids certainly enjoyed the hike, several photo ops, and lunch / snacks along the way. Lastly, visitor center is nice and clean with pretty decent food options if that's your fancy.

Extra Tips: Make it a 2 day trip and hit Matthiesen State Park - Dells Area nearby on your other day. Also, I read St. Louis Canyon and Ottawa Canyon can be nice but we didn't have enough time to hit them.
Written March 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

JBH
364 contributions
Jul 2021
I'd recommend doing this park in the spring and fall early in the morning in the middle of the week. In the spring, you may catch the waterfalls. In the fall, you'd see more at the overlooks and/or get some color. The park has some interesting history and I'd recommend arriving just before the ranger tour. The visitor center opens at 9:00.

We went in July and I wouldn't recommend it. The heat not only makes you drip in sweat, but attracts the plentiful amount of mosquitoes. If you have no other option but the heart of summer, take water with you and bug spray. Apply in parking lot and then reapply as you hike.

Paths very some sandy, some on cement, some board walks, some stairs. A stroller won't get you far.

The Junior Ranger Program is great and can be completed easily on your visit. You can pick up the booklets at the visitor center. There are a few movies you can choose from to watch and some displays.
Written July 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Starved Rock State Park (Oglesby) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Starved Rock State Park