Starved Rock State Park is located near Utica, Illinois, on the banks of the Illinois River. The land that is included in the park was given to the public by the state in 1911. Consisting of large St. Peter-sandstone hills and bluffs covered with trees and winding streams, it is the second oldest state park in Illinois. The park is named after an old Indian legend that has never been verified involving the death of many members of a tribe on top of the rocks. Open year-round, the park offers hiking, eagle watching and boating as well as an on-site hotel and a replica of Fort St. Louis, which once stood on top of the rock hill.
Indian legend tells a story of a band of Illiniwek Indians who were forced up into the hills of what is now Starved Rock State Park in 1769. The Illiniwek were chased by their enemies, the Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians, and were surrounded. Unable to come down from the butte without being killed, the Illiniwek were starved to death. This unsubstantiated tale of despair and misfortune has given the park its unique name.
Many of the trails, bridges, and shelters within the park were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). There are many trails and 18 canyons, and all can be explored by visitors. Birdwatching is a popular activity in the park, with eagles being the focus in the wintertime and migrating white pelicans frequenting the area during the spring and fall months. Admission is free, as is parking and many of the activities run by the Starved Rock Lodge, which is the only lodge located within the park.
Early springtime thaws and rains create waterfalls in nearly all of the 18 canyons within the park. This makes for an excellent photography backdrop as well as picturesque scenes for picnics and hiking. A replica of the early French Fort St. Louis can be seen in the visitor's center, and films explaining the origins of the earliest park inhabitants, as well as the creation of the park, are available to view free of charge. There are also trolley tours of the park, which allow a unique view of the many features of the park. A wedding package is also available that allows couples to begin their married life together in the park.