Starved Rock State Park

Photo by Jacki Musser
Home / Starved Rock State Park

Voted the #1 Attraction in the State of Illinois

Starved Rock State Park is a world apart from anything else in Illinois! You will know it the minute you enter the park, as you wind your car through the towering trees. Amazing seasonal waterfalls are active in the spring and after heavy rains. We have 13 miles of trails to explore and the Illinois River offers fishing (ice fishing, too), boating, extraordinary views and great places to relax.

March 16, 2020:
In light of the recent public health emergency, Governor Pritzker has announced the closing of all State Parks until further notice. All trails, the visitor center and campground and Trailheads Concessions are closed until further notice. Thank you for understanding. For questions, please visit:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Operates all state parks in Illinois, including Starved Rock State Park and neighboring Matthiessen State Park.

Park History

The park derives its name from a Native American legend. In the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At this council of the Illinois and the Pottawatomie, an Illinois-Peoria brave stabbed Chief Pontiac. Vengeance arose in Pontiac’s followers. A great battle started. The Illinois, fearing death, took refuge on the great rock. After many days, the remaining Illinois died of starvation giving this historic park its name – Starved Rock.

In 1835, Daniel Hitt purchased the land that is today occupied by Starved Rock State Park from the United States Government, as compensation for his tenure in the U.S. Army. He sold the land in 1890 to Ferdinand Walther and developed the land for vacationers. He built a hotel, dance pavilion and swimming area. In 1911, the State of Illinois purchased the site, making it the state’s first recreational park. In the 1930′s the Civilian Conservation Corps placed three camps at Starved Rock State Park and began building the Lodge and trail systems that you can now witness here at the Park.

In 1966, Starved Rock State Park was named a National Historic Landmark. Starved Rock State Park’s Lodge and Cabins were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 1985 as part of the Illinois State Park Lodges and Cabins Thematic Resources Multiple Property Submission.


13 Miles of Trails and 18 Canyons Wait Your Discovery

We highly recommend you come back to Starved Rock during different seasons of the year. The entire park, including the canyons and trails, look completely different in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer.

Please stay on the marked trails. Take out what you bring in and leave no trace that you were here. Have fun and hike safely.

Download Printable Map

Visitor Center

Your Park Adventure Starts Here

Hours & Contact

Visitor Center Open Daily: 9am to 4pm
The Visitor Center is closed on federal holidays

Starved Rock & Matthiessen State Park
(815) 667-4726
[email protected]

Visitor Center Events

– Winter Solstice Sunset Hike* (at capacity and no longer accepting registrations)
– Winter Wilderness (second Saturday of January)
– Eagle Watch Weekend (last weekend of January)

– Wildflower Pilgrimage (last Saturday of April)
– Spring Equinox Night Hike* (at capacity and no longer accepting registrations)
– Memorial Day Hike at 9:30 a.m.

– July 4th Hike at 9:30 a.m.
– Summer Solstice Night Hike* (at capacity and no longer accepting registrations)
– Labor Day Hike at 9:30 a.m.

– Fall Colors Weekend (3rd Saturday of October)
– Haunted Hike “Ghosts of Starved Rock’s Past” (last Saturday of October)* (at capacity and no longer accepting registrations)
– Fall Equinox Night Hike* (at capacity and no longer accepting registrations)

Click here to see the IDNR Calendar of Events

*Pre-registration required by emailing [email protected]


133 Class-A Premium Camp Sites

All camp sites come complete with electricity. The bath house has showers and flush toilets. Aside from the scenic beauty and flourishing wildlife, people enjoy the way the park is laid out with open grassy areas that are conducive to pitching a tent. Most camping slots are outfitted with standard 20-amp plugins, plus a 30-amp camper hookup. A limited number have 50-amp hookups for big travel trailers.

Campground Brochure

Everything you need to know about the campground

Campground Store

During the season, the campground store has everything a camper might need: wood, ice, batteries, marshmallows and brochures and information on Starved Rock Lodge events. The Campground Store is located at the Starved Rock Campground, just off Route 71. The campground is now closed for the season. 


Picnic areas are available to the day visitor, with tables 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 always prohibited on the trails. Groups of 25 or more are required to contact the Visitor Center prior to arrival.

Asked Questions

Photo by Jacki Musser

Click below to read our commonly asked questions about trails, canyons and the campground.

Keep In Touch