Looking for the perfect way to experience Starved Rock State Park this Father’s Day weekend? Book a trolley tour, guided hike, or river cruise. These small-group excursions are led by expert guides, granting you three new ways to enrich your stay at the legendary state park. Tours depart from the famed Starved Rock Lodge, and are offered every week throughout the summer season. Join us as we take a look at some of the guided tours currently on offer at Starved Rock.
The best way to acquaint yourself with the trails at Starved Rock State Park, and to learn a bit about the region’s fascinating history and ecology, is to book a guided hike offered by Starved Rock Lodge. On these small group mini-expeditions, you’ll explore Starved Rock’s canyons, bluffs and seasonal waterfalls, with the help of a knowledgeable trail guide. Tours start at 9:45 a.m. in the Starved Rock Lodge’s hotel lobby, for a meet-and-greet with your guide, followed by the distribution of pre-packaged lunches – which are complimentary with the price of admission for the hike. You’ll have your choice of turkey, ham or veggie wrap, along with a bag of chips, granola bar, piece of fruit and bottle of water.
Your group then will depart at 10 a.m, hiking toward such popular sightseeing and photo-op spots as Wildcat Canyon, Eagle Cliff and Lover’s Leap. Participants can expect to return to the lodge around noon. Along the way, your trail guide will point you toward all the best photo-ops, while peppering in exciting historical and nature facts – leaving you with a better understanding of the park’s history and ecology. Groups will return to the lodge at about 1:30 p.m. Proper footwear, hiking sticks and additional water are recommended for the outing. Tours run through November every Saturday and Sunday, and cost $22 per person, including your meal.
The Historic Trolley Tour, one of Starved Rock Lodge’s signature events, is a great way to sightsee at the park and its surrounding region, without embarking on a strenuous hike. These expansive 90-minute trolley tours include stops at the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center and the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, and even take you through beautiful downtown Utica.
On board, the trolley driver will narrate the history and legends of the region – highlighting historical events and must-see points of interest. These all-ages tours are held aboard buses with modern climate-control systems, ensuring you’ll have a comfortable ride all year round.
Tours begin at 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Admission costs $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for children age 10 and younger. It’s free for children age 3 and younger.
Starved Rock Lodge also provides water cruises with unbeatable views of the Illinois River and the state park’s majestic sandstone bluffs. This fascinating group tour is studded with historical and geological facts, as well as excellent birding opportunities. The exciting sightseeing tour is held aboard the Eagle I, a specialty tour boat that provides beautiful panoramic views of the river. The guided tour starts with a narrated trolley ride from Starved Rock Lodge to the nearby boat launch. Once on board the boat, you’ll be treated to some thrilling stories and legends about the park, as well as a close-up view of the gargantuan rock formations that have made it so famous. The one-hour river cruises run June through October, and are held every Saturday and Sunday, departing at 1 and 2 p.m. Tickets cost $32 per person, for ages 4 and up.
Looking to experience even more at Starved Rock State Park? Consider booking a Land and Water Cruise bundle. The package begins with lunch at the Starved Rock Lodge’s renowned restaurant, followed by a full, narrated trolley tour, and concludes with a ride aboard the Eagle I. These packages are offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from June through September, and last from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $55 per person. These trips, as well as the other trolley tours and boat rides, are an excellent way to experience the sights and sounds of Starved Rock State Park with minimal walking.
If you’re looking for an abridged walking tour of Starved Rock State Park, followed by a relaxing boat ride, the lodge’s Visit a Canyon & a Boat Ride package is just what you’re looking for. You begin by boarding a trolley bound for the entrance of one of Starved Rock’s most scenic canyons. On the brief, 45-minute walk, an expert trail guide will regale you with historical and nature-related information. Following the short trek, you’ll be able to relax with a boat ride on the picturesque Illinois River. A snack, bottle of water and souvenir drawstring backpack are included with the excursion. This tour runs June through October, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $50 per adult.
To reserve your spot on the fun and family-friendly tours, simply call 815-220-7386 or visit www.starvedrocklodge.com/activities. There you’ll find a full calendar of events and extended descriptions of the tours and other excursions offered by Starved Rock Lodge.