In the 1760s, Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa tribe upriver from here, was slain by an Illiniwek while attending a tribal council in southern Illinois. According to the legend, during one of the battles that subsequently occurred to avenge his killing, a band of Illiniwek, under attack by a band of Potawatomi (allies of the Ottawa), sought refuge atop a 125-foot sandstone butte. The Ottawa and Potawatomi surrounded the bluff and held their ground until the hapless Illiniwek died of starvation- giving rise to the name “Starved Rock.”
That's right. Starved Rock State Park has a large number of carved statues. They're located around the Lodge Parking Lot. Eagles, Bears, and an assortment of people and creatures. Normally, only the lodge and cabin guest see them, but the area is open to the public and you're welcome to come up and browse through the offerings.
Near Starved Rock, you can visit a number of overlooks that look out over the Illinois River. Many of them have plenty of standing room and even some benches. Lover's Leap gives you a good view of Starved Rock itself, while Eagle Cliff Overlook gives a good shot of the river and forest backdrop.
Top notch, excellent quality. Everytime we're in the area for dinner, we make the trip here. Down on the Illinois River. At the very end of the Illinois & Michigan Canal Heritage Trail, the Red Door is a great way to spend an evening. It will be an evening. Don't plan on rushing through dinner. You'll want to talk awhile about your day and enjoy the food. Don't pass up the desserts. They are one of a kind.
Just south of Starved rock is another nice area, Matthiessen State Park. There are just over 5 miles of trails in this park, highlighted by the Dells Area, which has a 3 mile loop trail surrounding a creek and a pair of waterfalls. Fewer people are found hiking here, but the scenery is just as pretty, and it is worth the stop.