There’s nothing like a beautiful destination with a story behind it. Deep canyons tower above the surrounding flatlands of central Illinois. Among the towering stones and winding wilderness lies a natural landscape steeped in local and Native American folklore. The escape of two enslaved star-crossed lovers, a fearsome battle finished on the landmark Starved Rock, stunning natural scenery, and much more are waiting to be discovered in Starved Rock State Park.
This ultimate guide is packed full of all the park facts, seasonal tips, best accommodations, and things to do for one heck of an adventure.
Starved Rock State Park Facts
Learning a bit about your destination is the best way to enjoy it to the fullest. Discover a bit about the park’s rich culture before you go with these Starved Rock State Park facts!
- Starved Rock State Park is a 2,630-acre park known for its wealth of canyons near Utica, Illinois.
- The park runs along the southern bank of the scenic Illinois River where visitors can enjoy boating and fishing.
- The park’s name comes from Native American folklore. Around 1760, the Ottawa and Illinois tribes fought a fierce battle here.
- The Illinois were forced to retreat to a large rock outcropping. They eventually lost the fight after running out of food, giving the park its namesake: Starved Rock.
- The spot of the battle is a natural observation point turned into a dramatic point of interest that overlooks the Illinois River.
- Spots along the trails like Starved Rock and Lover’s Leap are two examples of the rich background behind the destinations you’ll be enjoying.
Become a part of the rich history this park has to offer with a fun-filled RV trip to Starved Rock State Park!
Best Starved Rock State Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Next, let’s get you settled into the perfect base for your trip. We’ve curated this list of the best Starved Rock State Park RV parks and campgrounds to make planning a breeze.
Starved Rock Campground
The official RV sites near Starved Rock State Park are the most convenient choice for their very close proximity to the park. They’re located outside the gates just a few strides away from the entrance. The campground has simple amenities, but it is a great money-saving option
. All sites are electric, but water spouts and dumping stations are nearby. Starved Rock Campground is a popular place to stay, so do book well in advance, especially in busier seasons.
More information: Starved Rock Campground
Pleasant Creek Campground
Pleasant Creek Campground is another RV campground near Starved Rock State Park. You’ll find a load of amenities at a nice price, too. You’ve got full hookups at all sites, a dumping station, a camp store, and a ton of activities for children and adults alike. If you’re looking for a heavily wooded, private feeling, ask for a site outside of the “Highland” area. Be aware that there aren’t many hookup stations or toilets compared to the number of sites. A visit here during the off-season might be a great choice.
More information: Pleasant Creek Campground
LaSalle/Peru KOA Journey
LaSalle/Peru KOA Journey is a great choice for two types of campers. First, they cater to huge rigs up to 70’ long. Size restrictions will not be a problem here. Second, this RV campground near Starved Rock State Park is also just a short drive away from town. You’ll get to enjoy restaurants and local things to do anytime you’re in the mood for a more lively atmosphere. Full hookups are available at all sites, along with WiFi, a fishing pond, cable TV, and fire pits at each site.
More information: LaSalle/Peru KOA Journey
Mallard Bend RV Resort
This RV park near Starved Rock State Park caters to those looking for some open space. Mallard Bend is located on a large plot with a lot of space between sites. It’s also in the midst of a wooded area for a private feeling. There are plenty of things to do here in the form of a clubhouse with parlor games, a heated pool, a pond for fishing or canoeing, and a playground for the kids. This is a seasonal campground open from April 15th to October 15th, so plan accordingly!
More information: Mallard Bend RV Resort
Hi-Tide Beach & Campground
Hi-Tide Beach & Campground tends to attract families and is priced at a low rate. There’s plenty to do and service offered with a friendly atmosphere. Kids or adults can enjoy a pool, swimming lake, general store with arcade games and a billiard table, or just take in the serene scene of the park itself. Full hookups at all sites, a laundry room, bathhouses, and a dump station are all available.
More information: Hi-Tide Beach & Campground
Best Time to Visit Starved Rock State Park
It can be tough nailing down when to plan your visit, especially when Starved Rock State Park offers a unique experience in every season. This seasonal guide will help you choose the best time to visit Starved Rock State Park.
Winter is a really special time for RV camping at Starved Rock State Park. January and February are the best times to spot bald eagles. The beautiful frozen falls, massive sightlines from the lack of foliage, and low-crowd density are all good reasons for winter RV camping
. You’ll want to pack an electric blanket and warm layers, though. Temperatures go as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit in the evenings.
Spring RV camping at Starved Rock State Park has plenty of perks. First, the most pleasant weather comes with the arrival of spring. April and May’s days range from about 63 to 74 degrees. It’s the perfect weather for just about any activity. The park is teeming with wildflowers all around to brighten and uplift your spirit.
Summer RV camping at Starved Rock State Park marks the high season. It’s recommended to book well in advance for any summer trip plans. But, it’s popular for a good reason. Illinois has a mild summer that tops out at just 85 degrees at the season’s peak. If you don’t mind a more populated park, summer is a great time to enjoy boating or fishing in the Illinois River.
Pleasant weather, lower crowds than summer, and beautiful fall foliage are all part of fall RV camping in Starved Rock State Park. All the trails are lined with gorgeous hues of gold, orange, and red leaves. Mid to late October puts you at a perfect time to spot foliage before the winter chill sets in. Do pack some layered clothes for a fall visit. Nights can drop as much as 20 degrees lower than the daytime.
Things to Do in Starved Rock State Park
You’ve learned a bit about the park. We’ve got your home base all picked out. Now, on to the adventure! This fun list of things to do in Starved Rock State Park will get you started.
- Hike the trails. Starved Rock has over 13 miles of trails to enjoy. Along the 19 trails, you’ll be able to see looming canyons, gorgeous falls, and the scenic Illinois River. Try the Starved Rock and Sandstone Point Overlook Trail to arrive at the park’s legendary butte. Imagine the historic standoff that took place there as you overlook the running river.
- Spot bald eagles. You can see bald eagles throughout the park from December to February. Pack a pair of binoculars or head to the visitor’s center to borrow a pair and look skyward. Winter is the best season to spot these birds of prey as they hunt wild fish in the river. Stay sharp and stick near the river!
- Enjoy winter fun. In the winter months, you’ll have the chance to ice skate, ski, and sled around the park. The park takes on an entirely different feeling in the winter too. As the greenery sheds away, you’ll get to see the full breadth of the astounding geography of the park compared to the flatlands around it. The waterfalls all freeze over for a particularly interesting sight too.
- Learn some park history at the lodge. Historians believe Starved Rock was originally settled by indigenous people as much as 10,000 years ago. So, the park is teeming with folklore and tall tales about the grounds. You’ll find more information at the visitor center and lodge. It’s also a cozy spot loaded with couches and comfy seats to hole up for a drink after the day is done.
Now that you know all about the many activities Starved Rock State Park offers, let’s look at a few tips and tricks to make your camping adventure run a little smoother.
Tips on Visiting Starved Rock State Park
You must be excited to get your journey started. But make sure you get off on the right foot with these final tips on visiting Starved Rock State Park!
- Be careful of poison ivy. It grows rampant in the park and is an important food source for local fauna. Just watch for three-leaved plants and don’t touch. “Leaves of three, leave it be.”
- Don’t hike after dark. There’s a big network of trails at the park. It’s easy to lose your way even with a reliable light source. Hike early in the day to prevent spoiling your plans.
- Practice eco-friendly camping. Leave the land as if you were never there, without a trace of your presence. Don’t pick anything from the wild, including wildflowers.
- Keep your pet on a leash. For your furry friend’s safety, don’t tempt fate and keep a close watch on your pet.
- Pack a light snack and enough water for the day ahead. The trails can take you pretty far off from a water source and your camp, so make sure to bring enough supplies along with you.
With all these tips, tricks, and more, you’re bound to be a Starved Rock State Park RV camping pro!
RV Rental for Starved Rock State Park
That wraps up our guide to this wonderful destination. For the best and most comfortable stay possible, get yourself a Starved Rock State Park RV rental
courtesy of Cruise America
. Our lineup of fully-loaded RVs comes with everything needed to make the journey as joyful as the destination. No matter which campground you end up in, you’ll enjoy the comforts of home like a working kitchen, flush toilet and shower, and seating and living space to make some memories on the road.
Reserve an RV rental
for Starved Rock State Park today!