Visit historic Starved Rock to learn, hike and explore!
Discover the history
Discover the history surrounding Starved Rock and the Illinois & Michigan Canal including a blacksmith’s shop, a true trading post, a tepee and a one-room school house. The Trails, Trees and Teepees tour is one of the many tous we offer! It covers a wide range of topics including indigenous plants and animals as well as how the giant cliffs and canyons came to be. Starved Rock State Park, one of the 7 Wonders of Illinois (Illinois Bureau of Tourism) and one of many state parks in the area; is home to 18 canyons and over 2,600 acres of forests. The tour begins with a short hike to beautiful French Canyon. While hiking into the canyon you’ll learn about how the canyons were formed by glaciers and steam erosion.
After the hike
When this hike comes to an end you will stop by the Starved Rock Visitor’s Center to see birds and fish native to the area. Explore exhibits and see the 400-gallon aquarium that holds fish found in the Illinois River. Learn about all kinds of plants which call Starved Rock State Park their home. Hear stories about the history of the Native People who once lived at Starved Rock and how it got its name. See a display of stone tools used by Native Americans. Before you leave the building, check out a piece of the trunk of one of the largest American Elm trees in the U.S. that grew at Starved Rock (and look for what’s lodged in the wood!) Don’t forget to pick up some delicious homemade fudge or sweet rock candy on your way out.
Take a Trolley Tour
Following your hike, take a trolley tour around historic Starved Rock State Park and learn about the incredible St. Peter Sandstone rock formations which are over 400 million years old. Stop for lunch in the Great Hall dining room of Starved Rock Lodge before heading out for another hike, this time to sandy St. Louis Canyon; one of the most popular canyons in the park. No matter what time of year you go, this canyon has something to offer. In the spring and summer water flows off the cliff above and green plants line the St. Peter Sandstone walls of the canyon. You may even spot some wildlife such as birds, white tail deer, rabbits, and more. In the fall, bright orange and yellow leaves grace the trees and vines. While it may be a cold hike, winter is one of the best times to visit this canyon. The water freezes as it falls, forming a giant, ice fall. This spectacular sight is sure to be something you won’t forget.
After leaving St. Louis Canyon visit historic downtown Utica: home to multiple charming wineries. Visit the LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum which was built in 1848 but served many purposes before being made into a museum in 1966. Visit the Kidd Blacksmith Shop which, in the early days, made a variety of items including tools, sled runners, wagon springs, pots, pans and more. Built in 1892, the blacksmith shop is just down the street from the Aitken School House. A one-room school house built in 1865 was established in a deed signed by Horace A. Hickok, brother of “Wild Bill” Hickok. See what school was like more than a hundred years ago. Finally, take a look around Mix’s Trading post and perhaps bring home your very own arrowhead or pair of moccasins.
Wrap-Up the Day
If this isn’t already a fun-filled day, top it off by stopping for some artisan ice cream at Starved Rock’s Chillin’ on 6 and enjoy a unique flavor such as Blackberry Merlot or Hot Chocolate Spice. This tour does involve a significant amount of walking, so be prepared! There are many additional options to choose from as well, depending on the time of year you visit. For example: an authentic Chuck Wagon Dinner, survival workshops, wood carving exhibitions, live performances, water cruises, activities specifically designed for kids or senior citizens, storytelling, Breakfast with Santa, eagle watching, Teddy Bear Tea, and much, much more. A trip to Starved Rock State Park will leave you with lasting memories of a one-of-a-kind day! (If one day just isn’t enough, consider a multi-day tour! Stay overnight at the Starved Rock Lodge or Grand Bear Resort.)
What would you be most interested to check out at Starved Rock? Comment below and let us know!