Exploring Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois
By Marieve Herington
Imagine 13 miles of wooded trails, stunning rock formations, cascading waterfalls and gorgeous scenery all around you. You’ve just envisioned a trip to Starved Rock State Park. Located in Oglesby in Illinois’ Heritage Corridor region, Starved Rock is one of the best trips in the state if you’re a lover of the outdoors and nature. It’s also one of Illinois’ most popular attractions and, after my visit, I understood why.
Canyons and Waterfalls
Situated on the south bank of the Illinois River, Starved Rock has lots of trails, canyons and seasonal waterfalls that are particularly active in the spring and after a rain. The park is best known for its fascinating rock formations. The tall, sandstone bluffs are a gorgeous contrast to the otherwise flat landscapes of Illinois. In some places, streams have cut under the sandstone, creating beautiful overhangs such as the one at Council Overhang at the eastern end of the park.
I hiked along an easy trail through lush forest that took me into St. Louis Canyon. Soon, I was surrounded by towering cliffs. Inside the canyon, there´s an almost mystical atmosphere. From high above, a waterfall tumbles over the cliffs. It was a moment of feeling totally connected to nature.
Aside from the wonderful hiking trails, you’ll find many other outdoor activities at Starved Rock such as fishing, boating, hunting and picnicking. Depending on when you visit, you might see a frozen waterfall in winter, blooming flowers in spring, a lush forest in summer or beautiful leaves in autumn.
One fun, unique thing to try is a historic trolley tour through the park. Available from March through December, the trolley takes you through the park as a guide narrates the history and legends of the grounds.
Lodging at Starved Rock
At the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center, you can stay overnight and enjoy the variety of the surrounding nature over a stay of several days. With its enormous fireplace and gourmet food, the lodge is absolutely gorgeous. There’s an indoor pool and hot tub to enjoy. You can also take part in activities for all ages and fitness levels throughout the year.
As an alternative, the park offers tent and cabin camping. Tent camping includes the comforts of electricity, showers and toilets. Or, choose to stay in a cabin. These log cabins may look rustic on the outside, but all of them are well-equipped inside with handmade furniture, electricity and even Wi-Fi internet access! Plus, they are all within walking distance of the main lodge. What a great way to escape without giving up modern conveniences.
I was really impressed with Starved Rock State Park. When you’re swept up by the crowds in Chicago, it’s easy to forget about the simplicity of nature. A visit to Starved Rock will put you back in touch with Mother Nature at her finest.