Starved Rock State Park
Address: 2668 E. 873rd Rd., Oglesby, IL 61348
Time from Chicago: 1 hour, 45 minutes (92 miles)
Camping at Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock is one of the most popular camping getaways for residents of the Chicago area. It’s 92 miles southwest of the Windy City, which means it’s also within driving distance of a number of other locations – Starved Rock is 118 miles from Champaign, 127 miles from Springfield, and 224 miles from St. Louis.
Many Chicago campgrounds don’t offer much in the way of nature or scenery (I’m talking about you, Gebhard Woods), but Starved Rock has it all: Waterfalls, thick forests, 425 million-year-old rock formations, and sandstone cliffs along the Illinois River.
The park is home to ducks, hawks, and deer. Poison ivy is everywhere in Starved Rock, so dress accordingly. You’ll find 13 miles of hiking trails within the park, marked by colored guideposts. Cross-country skiing is allowed during winter.
There are 129 class A camping sites in the campground, which cost $25 most days ($35 on holidays), plus a $5 reservation fee. That’s more expensive than many other Illinois campgrounds, but it’s worth it. Reservations are recommended and can be made at Reserve America. There’s also a lodge offering hotel and cabin rooms, plus an on-site camping store for firewood and any last-minute supplies you’ve forgotten.
Starved Rock is a good choice if you’re looking to bike to a Chicago area campground. Bikely has a nice map showing the 108-mile bike route from the city out to Starved Rock, much of which is actual bike lanes via the I&M Canal Trail. Biking is prohibited on the hiking trails within the park.
Starved Rock is considered one of the best road trips from Chicago. I would urge all Windy City residents to experience the park at least once!
Images: Creative Commons, users anneh632, guano