Situated on the banks of the Illinois River, the Starved Rock Campground provides an ideal setting for fishing, boating, and hiking. It’s on the doorstep of the Starved Rock State Park’s 18 canyons, as well as a lodge and conference center offering all the creature comforts you need. RV camping at Starved Rock Campground includes access to their 133 class-A premium sites, which offer 20/30/50 amp hookups. There’s a bathhouse with showers and flush toilets for guests to use, as well as picnic shelters and drinking water facilities. Firewood is available 24/7 from the firewood vending machine while the on-site camp store is well stocked with ice, batteries, and marshmallows. Aside from its grassy tent and RV sites, the campground lodge also offers 69 cozy rooms and 21 cabin rooms that are equipped with modern conveniences.
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A highlight of staying at Starved Rock Campground is exploring its renowned wilderness area, which encompasses steep sandstone canyons formed by glacial waters. It’s named after a butte known as “Starved Rock” that’s long been associated with Ottawa and Potawatomi legends and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Follow the wooded trail that leads to the Lover’s Leap Overlook, with sweeping views on offer across the river and Starved Rock Dam. Take time to explore the canyons of St. Louis, French, and Wildcat canyons during the summer months (with impressive waterfalls found in each) or visit during the winter when ice climbing is possible. Utica Township campers are also on the doorstep of Matthiessen State Park, a large forest park and canyon surrounded by prairies. It centers on a stream that flows from Matthiessen Lake to the Vermilion River and has eroded fascinating rock formations into the colorful sandstone layers. White-tailed deer can often be seen at the salt licks of the park’s mineral springs while swallows can be witnessed nesting in the eroded canyon walls. Aside from five miles of marked hiking trails, Matthiessen State Park features nine miles of mountain biking and equestrian trails that visitors can explore. If you’re a birdwatcher, don’t miss a visit to the Plum Island Eagle Sanctuary, which protects foraging habitat for wintering bald eagles. It’s also home to several Native American archaeological sites, including a large number of human remains dating back to 2,000 BC that have led to it being called “Massacre Island.” The island is now owned by the Illinois Audubon Society which has protected it against commercial development to ensure the long-term survival of bald eagle populations.
When you’re camping at Starved Rock Campground, you can pick up groceries in Oglesby, which is around 15 minutes’ drive from the RV park. There are a couple of gas stations if you need to fill up your RV rental, as well as a handful of eateries if you don’t feel like cooking. Or, you can head into LaSalle where there’s a more extensive choice of services, including large housewares stores and fast-food restaurants.While you’re visiting LaSalle, take time to explore its heritage-listed buildings, including the LaSalle City Building and the Julius W. Hegeler House. Also of note is the six-story Hotel Kaskaskia, which once housed prominent guests such as Amelia Earhart and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, as well as the Second Empire-style Hegeler Carus Mansion that was designed in 1874 by renowned Chicago architect William W. Boyington. This lavish Victorian-era home boasts 57 rooms and the oldest private gymnasium in America, as well as hand-painted walls, elaborate woodwork, and century-old chandeliers. Camp in an RV near Utica Township and head to the museum and visitor’s center dedicated to the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Follow in the footsteps of 19th-century travelers to explore this hand-dug waterway during a ride on a replica canal boat, with crew dressed as they would have appeared during the pioneer years. Near the boat dock are 13 full-size steel silhouettes, which represent passengers and workers who rode the canal boats between 1848 and 1853, including Abraham Lincoln and his family. If you’re interested in the rail history of the region, don’t miss the Peru–LaSalle station, which was constructed along the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and now exists as a lawn and garden center. Drive in the other direction from the RV campground, and you’ll arrive in Ottawa, which is also clustered with historic homes and landmarks. Stop in at the Ottawa Scouting Museum that honors the founder of the Boy Scouts of America, William D. Boyce, and learn about the Scandinavian settlers who founded the area at the Norsk Museum. Others highlights include the historic Reddick Mansion and the 19th-century Zeller Inn, which is renowned for its stunning Gilded Age interior. Whether you want to visit the region’s historical museums or explore the canyons of Starved Rock, book an RV in LaSalle County and start planning your next vacation.