Cities Neighboring Starved Rock State Park:
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park, located just near I-80 and I-39 in Utica, IL, is the major tourist attraction in north central Illinois. The Park is free to all visitors and parking is free also. The park attendance for 2009 was 2,058,966.
Surround yourself with nature at Starved Rock State Park. The waterfalls and canyons are unexpected wonders, nestled within 2,630 acres of lush forests. Whether you choose the river trail or the bluff trail, you will enjoy spectacular views along the Illinois River. From picnicking to fishing to boating, from horseback riding to camping to enjoying winter sports, there's so much to do that you'll come back again and again.
The backdrop for your activities are18 canyons formed by glacial melt water and stream erosion. They slice dramatically through tree-covered, sandstone bluffs for four miles at Starved Rock State Park, which is located along the south side of the Illinois River, one mile south of Utica and midway between the cities of LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa.
The park is best known for its fascinating rock formations, primarily St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface.
While the areas along the river and its tributaries still are predominantly forested, much of the area is a flat, gently rolling plain. The upland prairies were created during an intensive warming period several thousand years after the melting of the glaciers. The Illinois River Valley in the Starved Rock area is a major contrast to the flatland. The valley was formed by a series of floods as glacial melt water broke through moraines, sending torrents of water surging across the land and deeply eroding the sandstone and other sedimentary rocks.
During early spring, when the end of winter thaw is occurring and/or when summer rains are frequent, sparkling waterfalls are found at the heads of all 18 canyons, and vertical walls of moss-covered stone create a setting of natural geologic beauty uncommon in Illinois. Some of the longer-lasting waterfalls are found in French, LaSalle and St. Louis canyons.