When Is the Best Time
It’s a magical year-round destination for hiking and sightseeing. In summer it’s very special to see the waterfalls after a hard rain, in winter when the falls are frozen. Spring offers the beauty of wildflowers. Fall shows its beauty with yellow, golden and red leaves that are present on the trails.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
The park is a less busy in winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb). Otherwise it’s often heavily crowded in spring, summer and fall. Even more on weekends and national holidays. To beat the crowds: Avoid weekends and be there early. The visitor center opens at 9 AM but you can arrive and park earlier. Another way to avoid the crowds is to hit the trails that are not located in the main hub. The park is large and has many trails where you can ‘hike away’.
Bird Watching Months (Eagles)
Every year, thousands of eagles migrate to the area, they come for the fish found in the cold waters of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The birds begin arriving in late December and stay until March. To spot the eagles and be on the safe side visit in January or February. Park administration says, that depending on the weather, most of the birds are gone in March already.
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Where and Tips
At least in the northern parts of Illinois, it can be challenging to find a spot to hike with rigor. Starved Rock offers visitors many ways to encounter the great outdoors. It's best known for being a prime spot to view North American Bald Eagles. For details on your best chance of seeing the eagles, visit this site:
Historically, The park derives its name from a Native American legend of Starved Rock. In the 1760's, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting, at this council of the Illinois and the Pottawatomie, Kinebo, the head chief of the Illinois tribe stabbed Chief Pontiac. Vengeance arose in Pontiac’s followers. A great battle started. The Illinois, fearing death, took refuge on the great rock. After many days, the remaining Illinois died of starvation giving this historic park its name – Starved Rock.
There are 16 miles of well-marked hiking trails, where you can view waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons. The lodge on the premises boasts several massive fireplaces in common areas to warm up in between hikes or stay overnight in one of their onsite cabins (including pet-friendly cabins) or in their historic lodge. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the present-day Lodge during the 1930s; its white pine logs were brought from Indiana. Besides building the Lodge, the CCC built many stairways, shelters, and bridges in the park. For lodging availability check: http://www.starvedrocklodge.com/