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What Isn't Allowed at the Park?

Fines begin at $195

  • Camping is prohibited outside of the state campground. * Rock climbing, rappelling, and scaling the sandstone features including the canyon walls.
  • Ground fires outside of the state campground.
  • Bicycles, scooters, skates, skateboards, and similar items.
  • Hiking after dark.
  • Alcohol and any intoxicating substances. (Alcohol is only allowed in the picnic area from June 1-December 31).
  • Drones and metal detecting.
  • Removal of historical artifacts, rocks, plants, flowers, trees, or wildlife.
  • Swimming, wading, or sliding in any body of water including the river, canyon creeks, and waterfalls.
  • Picnicking outside of the designated picnic area.
  • Litter! Please practice "Leave No Trace" by packing up all of the items that you have with you including snack bags, candy wrappers, clothing, wipes, diapers, and beverage containers!

Activity Permits

(Required - Any group of 20 or more people)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Land Management requires any group of 20 or more persons who use Department facilities to have advance written permission from the Site Superintendent. Regardless of group size, the Department may require additional liability coverage to be provided through an Activity Permit. Release of Liability can be used if your organization, family, or school does not have liability insurance. Site managers may deny the request if the facilities are not adequate to handle the size of the group if public health or safety might be compromised, if the liability risk to the Department is too great, or if there would be adverse impacts on natural resources at the site.

Activity Permits are to be used whenever a non-traditional use of any facility is requested (for example - a family reunion in the picnic area) and/or any activity that might increase potential liability to the Department (for example - search and rescue teams practicing on rock faces). These requests need to be made at least 21 days in advance of the activity and forwarded to the Regional Office for processing.

Minors 18 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult chaperone (1 adult chaperone for every group of 15 or fewer minors during school field trips, organized group outings, and family gatherings).  Please visit the State of Illinois Administrative Rules here

A Permit to Sell is needed if food or goods are sold, fees are charged, or when money changes hands in any manner among the organizers, spectators, and/or participants.


Guidelines for Completing Activity Permits

  1. Complete the Activity Permit at least 2-3 weeks prior to the scheduled visit.
  2. Acquire Proof of Liability Insurance (business, school, or organization can ask their administrator or main office) or have each participant sign the Release of Liability Form ahead of time.
  3. Email, mail, or drop off the completed Activity Permit and Proof of Liability Insurance together (or, Release of Liability) to at least 2-3 weeks prior to the scheduled visit.
    Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center
    PO Box 509
    Utica, IL 61373
  4. The Site Superintendent will respond within 2 weeks from the time the permit was handed in with an approval or denial of the group visit through email ( or phone at 1-815-667-4726
  5. An Activity Permit Fee of $25 is due the day of the activity and can be paid in the form of cash or check to IDNR at the Starved Rock Visitor Center which is open daily from 9 to 4.

Hiking Information and Trail Suggestions

Exploring the majestic bluffs and canyons is the park’s primary attraction, and there are 13 miles of well-marked trails to help you enjoy them. The trails are open all year from 7 a.m. until sunset.

Hikers must exercise extreme caution and stay on marked trails= Brown, Green, or_ _Red

*Trail maps are located at all trail access points, intersections, and parking lots at the park along with brown directional signs that list the various features such as the canyons. *

  • In case of an accident or emergency, please CALL 911. Red QR Codes are posted by or on every trail map along trail intersections and parking lots at the park.
  • Dogs are allowed at the park as long as they are kept on a leash, their owners pick up after them, dispose of waste in trash cans, and provide them adequate water while on the trail. Do not let your dog drink out of the canyon waterfalls, creeks, or Illinois River. Dogs are not allowed on guided hikes or programs, please.

Trail Suggestions

The average person hikes 1 mile every 30-45 minutes. Please take into consideration the number of major staircases located at the park. There are no ADA compliable trails (accessible by car or wheelchair) into the park's canyons or overlooks due to the topography.

Trail Suggestion Videos

Starved Rock State Park visitors can now take a guided hike on the park’s most popular trails using this new smartphone app. Download the Prairie State Hike App for just 99 cents.




Volunteers are always welcome at Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks. There are a variety of activities to be found from trail clean-up, visitor services, program presentations, hike leaders, naturalists, and more. Benefits from volunteering include community, friendship, hiking, time in nature, socialization, and much more.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Hike Leaders

Starved Rock Foundation

Fishing and Boating

Boats may be launched from the west end of the park. Boats are not allowed within 600 feet of the dam, as strong currents and powerful undertows can be dangerous. Catfish, bullhead, white bass, sauger, walleye, carp, and crappie may be caught in the Illinois River. Under no circumstances should you attempt to wade or swim in the river, canyon creeks, or from any park shoreline.


Kayak rentals at Starved Rock State Park are operated by a private concessionaire, Kayak Starved Rock. Kayaking typically begins in May and lasts through September. Please call 630-567-4653 or email to book your kayak rental today!


Check the IDNR website for further information on hunting programs at Starved Rock; including deer, wild turkey, dove, waterfowl, squirrel, and furbearer programs. For more information, please review the Hunter Fact Sheet or call the Park Ranger in charge of hunting programs at park M-F at 815-667-5351 and leave a message and your call will be returned.

Winter Activities

Ice Climbing is allowed at the park. Climbers must bring their own equipment and have experience in ice climbing. Ice climbers climb at their own risk. Please view the Ice Climbing Brochure for further information, rules, and regulations.

Starved Rock Ice Climbing


Developed picnic areas are available to the day visitor, with tables, drinking water, and restroom facilities. Eight shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Visitors may grill within the picnic area by utilizing grills in place or bringing their own.  Open fires are not allowed outside of the campground area.  Cooking/grilling is not allowed along the trail system our outside of the designated picnic area. Alcohol is prohibited from January 1 through May 31 in the picnic area. Alcohol is prohibited on the trails all year round.