I started going to Starved Rock State Park In Utica Illinois when I was little. My wife and took the kids here to hike when they were little. We have stayed in the Lodge and cabins several times and it is fantastic. A grand early 20th century lodge that is both elegant and rustic. Great food and just gorgeous. I’ll do a piece on it and review another time but just want you to get a taste.
As a proud Native American the park itself has a great significance (one nation starved another on the rock, hence the name) so for me it’s always a great hiking trip. Just a place I connect.
We also love going to nearby Utica to shop, eat and hit the wineries. Look for more pieces on that soon as well. For now I just want to give you a taste of the lodge and trails in the park from a recent trip my wife and I took. I’ll also post more links and info on the history then.
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Growing up we called this place New park. It was a place hardly anyone went. As a teen it was a place we could get away as well as have an illegal adult beverage or two(not condoning lol). It is in a very rural area of Piatt county where it meets Champaign county. Over the years people have built a number of houses nearby. There are whole developments. Still when you step back into this park, it all goes away. It is this area as it used to be. Prairie, river and trees. For me it holds a special place. As a young man I always felt a strange kindred spirit feeling when we went out there to hike and possibly consume beer. I always felt like someone was watching me, but in a good way. In later years I found out there was a huge battle here between two native nations. Nobody knows who exactly but the thousands of arrowheads and bloody bones that came up as it was developed let everybody understand what it was. Around here we don’t always get attention from or care about the celebrity archaeologists lol. To this day a section of the river is known to locals as Bloody Bend. Now you know why.
These days living in Champaign county but not far away, it is a place my dog Renegade and I go to get away and just wander. When I am not on the road for fights or travel writing/pr it is one of our places several times a week.
If you are interested in just hiking, native folklore or just need to get away from people give this place a look. I use it for dog walks as well as a place to train(climb hills and force myself to work in bad weather) when I’m building my fight skills. Take a look at some pictures from Renegade’s most recent trip out there.
Give this place a look. Contact me with any questions about the area or how to get there. The county web for it is not very helpful. If you live in the area or are visiting the University Of Illinois it is a great place to get away. Probably 30 minutes from the campus.
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My dad’s family moved from the native territory (called reservations elsewhere ) to drill the oilfields in Southern Illinois. AS a child we spent a ton of time in this area hiking and eating. Much of it is beyond rural lol. Great food, beautiful scenery and cool country folk. It is truly it’s own little world. Great state parks including Garden of The Gods and Cave In Rock ( famous from movies).as well as others. Much of the area still has native culture (Cherokee and osage which is my heritage). It creates an interesting area full of food, music and a love of nature. I’ll be doing more in depth posts including hotel stays and restaurant reviews . For now take a look at the natural beauty. It’s a great place for an inexpensive trip, and worth it no matter where you are from.
Don’t overlook this great area to take a trip. Nature, food and country culture. You can’t go wrong with that!
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