Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois' most beautiful destinations. Camping near Starved rock features 18 canyons w/ 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.
Camping near Starved Rock offers 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. Starved Rock State Park in Illinois is a dream destination for a midwest nature getaway.
Overall a decent place to stay. We didn't experience the noise some reviewers did, but there's not much in between sites on the western loop. Trees surround the loop, and it appears the eastern look has more secluded sites. My biggest complaint was the sites don't appear to be well maintained, and previous campers didn't do a good job of cleaning up after themselves. Lots of plastic bottle tops, small pieces of paper towel, etc were all over the place. Too bad since it's an otherwise nice place.
I think this place attracts a lot of junkies and drunks.
Can get noisy at night.
You'll have to come to this sacred place to learn the fate of 2 star-crossed lovers who leapt to their deaths here (ironically named Lover's Leap) after days of being starved to death from the encircling warring tribe down below. But thankfully, you can bring your own food, gear and beer and not suffer as the Illiniwek and Potowatami did hundreds of years ago.
Despite Illinois being one of the flattest states in the country, the area of Starved Rock benefits from the scars left behind of the great glaciers which carved a tumultuous pathway through this otherwise fairly plain and even landscape. After thousands of years of rain filled up most of that crevasse with what is now called the Illinois River, which is one of the points that makes this park one of the greatest in the entire state. Beyond the riverview, there are easy-to-moderate trails that are simply fantastic and dog-friendly. Do make sure though that you bring galoshes (or for the rest of the world, boots, except for you Brits, wellies) during the shoulder seasons as the limestone facades quickly fade to soggy muddy soil.
From an accommodation standpoint, there are so many options, from Starved Rock Lodge Resort itself, which is a fantastic old school resort from early turn-of-the-century, to basic (and a few luxe) cabin offerings, but the real fun can be had camping, of course, in tents. There's basically one loop, divided by East and West. Most of the sites are fairly nondescript and flat with a little bit of shrubbery for privacy. The best bit about this state park is one can reach a degree of privacy very quickly, but in the event that you need those creature comforts or simply want to dine out instead of eating hot dogs and beans again, it's a very easy drive into Spring Valley for pizza at famed Lou's LaGrotto or, for the best fried chicken on the planet, head further afield to Ladd for Ripp's. And, if you don't want to stray too far, the food, drinks and good people at Starved Rock Lodge would be grateful for your business too (OK, in full disclosure, I worked there as a waiter some 20+ years ago, so I'm slightly biased!).
Great place for tourists. Canyons are amazing and the lodge is really great. Food is good.
People get down on Illinois. And I get it. It’s a typical Midwest state and it’s mostly pretty flat. But…then there’s Starved Rock! Easily accessible to most of IL residents, Starved Rock is a great half-day for anyone looking for hiking, waterfalls, and views, views, views!
Quick tip: We enjoyed a quick trail mix snack at the bottom of the steep inclines. Gave the kiddos the energy they needed to make it to the top :)
-Trails are great and have some good waterfalls.
-The inn is really nice and has good food and a bar for drinks after a long hike.
-The campsite had enough room and was level.
-The shower house by the entrance was clean and well kept.
-The noise at night, from the trails, airplanes, and what I think was a boat horn, kept waking us up all night.
-You would have to walk through another campsite to get to the pit toilet next that was in our area. Also, the pit toilet had a lot of rot and was in need of repair.
Alcohol is banned at the campsites, but the Inn has a bar.
Beautiful canyons to hike through! Many waterfalls and streams as well!
This is a nice campground, especially for families. It would be perfect for groups of families traveling together or a reunion or something. That being said, it’s very busy during peak times with lots of children. Dogs are allowed and lots of people bring them. Plan on making reservations in advance (especially if you need 50 amp or a space for a large RV). Sites have electric and a picnic table plus fire pit and there’s firewood for sale on site. NO alcohol is allowed. The gates are closed from 10p-8:30a so plan accordingly. We have AT&T and barely ever had service on our phones but it’s better up at the actual park
The back part of the loop had pit toilets and there are flush toilets and showers up front along with a spigot for water. Taste of the water is ok. Dumpsters for trash are by where you pull in and out. A few notes on the bathrooms/showers:
Lights are not on inside the bathrooms overnight.
Only two showers each for men and women. The women’s showers had a line around 8am. No lines for showers in middle of the day or around dinner time.
Showers are the type where you push the button and the (hot!!) water runs for two minutes then turns off and you have to push it again.
Shower area is a little bit older but toilets are fine and the sinks have soap and a hand dryer.
RVs will probably like the inside part of the loop ok (42-53, 39-42) but I wouldn’t stay there in a tent unless you had a group and were booking multiple sites. We (tent campers) had site 50 (very similar to 46 and 48 also) and it was okay. You’re fairly close to your neighbors. Site 52 is amazing for tent campers (it’s way back from the road although still drive in) but you’re farther from your electricity there.
Starved Rock is beautiful but can be very busy on nice weekends. There is dining at the lodge including one place open in the summer where you can bring your dog (has outdoor patio). Matthiessen State Park is beautiful as well but get there early because by mid morning the parking can fill up. There are things to do in town as well (wineries, shopping). If you are just going for hiking a weekend is probably a sufficient length of time to stay.
A note on wheelchair access: the bathrooms are accessible as is the campground overall (there are paved roads) but Starved Rock and Matthiessen are both very heavy on the stairs.
Incredible scenery, very clean, tons to do! It’s amazing!
This place is fantastic. It’s no wonder millions of people come to enjoy the facility year over year. Between the waterfalls and hiking and the adjacent town. This park has it all. Bring your Harley and enjoy the roads