Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

If you’re looking for a quick day trip or weekend getaway, Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, IL is the place to go. But, don’t forget your hiking boots HERE! Starved Rock State Park is nestled two hours southwest of Chicago. Better yet, it’s less than 100 miles away and has over 13 miles of trails. Waterfalls in the spring are beautiful and I happened to catch a beautiful day. The temperature hovered around 60F degrees in the morning and it was the perfect temperature for hiking. I would recommend getting to the park earlier to avoid the crowds later in the day. It can get quite crowded as we realized on the way back from our hike. The best part is, the park is free all year long!

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But how did Starved Rock get its name? 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.

Starved Rock State park is situated along the Illinois River. There are many spots along your hike to take a break and check out the beautiful views. Our first lookout point was at the famous Starved Rock, looking out over the Illinois River.

Depending on the time of year that you go really depends on how many paths you can travel on. We were lucky because the weather cooperated the day before which allowed us to explore almost everywhere the park had to offer. We did not come across a lot of wildlife besides for a few woodpeckers, squirrels and other birds. I’m positive you could catch some deer, a fox or other small animals depending on the time of day you are hiking but we didn’t see much.

Lover’s Leap Overlook

Next up we stopped at “Lover’s Leap Overlook” to take a few fun photos!

Just a quick note, it’s important to make sure you stay on the designated pathways and look for posted signs on where you should hike and where you should not. There are signs that say “not a trail”. So, you should make sure to stay on the path at all times. This helps preserve the park, nature and allows these beautiful places to stay free.

I would have to say that the waterfalls were my favorite part of our hike. I also really enjoyed the drastic landscape and small canyons carved into the hill-sides. We walked about 5.5miles and well over 12,500 steps during our journey. You can see our highlighted route below. Feel free to download the Starved Rock State Park Map HERE.

Hiking Starved Rock

You can see the highlighted route below and follow in our footsteps or take your own route.

We did not hike the entire park as it was getting too crowded and we were getting pretty tired already. This route, with stopping and admiring the scenery took us about 3.5-4hours. Most of the hike was pretty easy but there were some parts that were steep and strenuous. I’m in pretty good shape but even I found myself trying to catch my breath after a long set of consecutive stairs.

I want to stress that Spring time is the best time of year to come to this park. The weather was gorgeous and most of the waterfalls were flowing nicely. If you decide to go in summer, it’s likely that the waterfalls will be dry and you will not see many unless there was heavy rainfall the day before. Lasalle Canon (below) was a real highlight and is one of the most popular waterfalls in the park.

if you’re planning on taking a trip to Starved Rock State Park, make sure to stop in the visitor center first. They will give you all the information you need and a map so you can make sure you’re following the right paths! It’s pretty hard to get lost but I’m not saying it can’t happen…

The Buffalo Park

After we were done hiking we decided to grab some food at the visitor center. The visitor center has picnic tables outside and it made for a great opportunity to sit and relax after the long hike. Before we left Oglesby, we decided to hop in the car and head to the northern side of the river where we met this guy.

Inside the Buffalo park there were two Buffalo. They looked pretty healthy and happy playing in the mud and having plenty of veggies to eat. After five minutes or so they both came up really close to the fence and you could see how massive these animals are, it’s pretty incredible.

After we were done visiting with the Buffalo we decided to head down the road a little ways and do a wine tasting at Illinois River Winery. Then, we grabbed some ice cream at Roxies Sweet Confections. I would highly recommend taking a stop at Roxies and seeing all the sweets and treats they have to offer. The ice cream was spectacular!

Thinking about going to Starved Rock State Park? Have any questions about where to stay or what to do? Drop a comment in the section below!

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