River Adventures: Exploring the Illinois Waterway at Starved Rock

Nestled along the banks of the Illinois River, Starved Rock State Park offers not only picturesque landscapes and lush canyons but also a myriad of river adventures waiting to be explored. In this article, we will delve into the recreational opportunities available on the Illinois Waterway, from boating and fishing to a unique perspective of experiencing Starved Rock from the water.

Boating Excursions:

The Illinois River serves as a liquid highway inviting enthusiasts to embark on boating adventures with the towering canyons of Starved Rock as a stunning backdrop. Visitors can bring their own boats or opt for boat rentals available in the area. Whether it’s a leisurely pontoon cruise, a kayak expedition, or a thrilling jet ski ride, the Illinois River provides a dynamic canvas for exploring the natural beauty that surrounds Starved Rock.

Boat Rentals:

For those without their own watercraft, several rental services in the vicinity of Starved Rock offer a variety of vessels to suit every taste. Pontoon boats, kayaks, and canoes are available for hourly or full-day rentals, allowing visitors to craft their own river adventure. Navigating the gentle currents of the Illinois River offers a different perspective of the park, showcasing hidden coves, scenic bluffs, and the rich wildlife along the water’s edge.

Fishing in the Illinois River:

Anglers are drawn to the Illinois Waterway for its diverse fish population, making it an excellent destination for fishing enthusiasts. The river is home to species such as catfish, bass, walleye, and more. Fishing from the banks or a boat provides a tranquil experience, surrounded by the natural beauty of Starved Rock. Popular spots include the areas around Plum Island, Ottawa Canyon, and the confluence of the Fox River.

Water-Based Activities:

The Illinois River invites visitors to engage in a variety of water-based activities beyond boating and fishing. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has gained popularity, allowing adventurers to navigate the gentle waters while enjoying a full-body workout. Additionally, the calm stretches of the river are ideal for swimming, providing a refreshing break on warm summer days.

The Unique Perspective:

Experiencing Starved Rock from the water offers a unique perspective that complements the traditional hiking and trail exploration. The towering canyons and sandstone bluffs take on a different character when viewed from the river, revealing hidden crevices and waterfalls that might go unnoticed from the land. The tranquility of the water enhances the overall sensory experience, providing a serene backdrop to the natural wonders that define Starved Rock.


For those seeking adventure beyond the trails and canyons, the Illinois Waterway at Starved Rock opens a gateway to a different realm of exploration. Boating, fishing, and water-based activities offer a refreshing and dynamic way to engage with the natural beauty of this Illinois gem. Whether you navigate the river on your own vessel or opt for a rental, the Illinois River invites you to discover the unique charm of Starved Rock from a perspective only accessible from the water. Embark on a river adventure, and let the gentle currents guide you through a journey of scenic wonder along the banks of Starved Rock.

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