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How to Avoid the Summer Crowds

Steer clear of summer crowds & reconnect with nature with these tips.

It’s no secret that Starved Rock State Park receives millions of visitors every year. School is out, temperatures are rising, the sun is shining, and people are vacationing to the park! These visitors come for very good reasons. However, don’t let the summer crowds stop you from enjoying your day. Hit the trails and find solitude at Starved Rock with these 5 tips:

Trail to Eagle Cliff Overlook
  1. Hit the trails early in the morning or late afternoon; Begin your hike early, before other visitors are even awake, and you may just get lucky enough to have the hike all to yourself. As a bonus, it won’t be as hot as in the middle of the day. If you cannot go early in the morning, we recommend hiking after 3:00 p.m to avoid middle-of-the-day craziness. Make the most of your day by hiking all-morning, taking a break for lunch, and then going back out for a later afternoon hike. Remember, the trails open at 7:00a.m. and close at sunset.

  2. Plan the day in advance; Plan out your day ahead of time and schedule the most popular trails, such as The Rock and St. Louis Canyon, in the morning or early evening. When hiking in the middle of the day, visit lesser known hikes such as Hennepin or Illinois Canyon Try our “Find a Hike” feature on our website to see our recommended hikes and average time associated with each to assist you in planning your day. Click here to visit our “Find A Hike” page and begin planning your ideal day in the park.

  3. Think twice before visiting on holiday weekends; Starved Rock is packed around holidays such as Memorial Day Weekend and the Fourth of July. If you are looking to enjoy nature and find peace within the park, avoid holiday weekends. It is best to visit the park during the middle of the week, but if that is not possible then try to plan for a different weekend instead.

  4. Try a midweek adventure; Typically during the summer months, the park is least crowded between Tuesdays and Thursdays. If your schedule allows and if summer crowds are a concern for you, try scheduling your visit in the middle of the week between these days.

  5. Consider a rainy or cloudy day; A day filled with nothing but sunshine like the perfect summer day for a hike… But what about the hordes of people that come out on those beautiful blue sky days? Consider checking the forecast and visiting on a day filled with clouds. If you are extra brave, visit in the rain. Trust us, it will make for extra fun and by the end of the hike you will be dancing in the rain. With cloudy and rainy days come more adventure and normally less people.

In the height of summer, you are likely to encounter crowds. We hope these tips help you avoid the crowds and enjoy the beauty that Starved Rock offers.

Waterfall Flow Reporting

As a reminder, we are asking every person who hikes to a waterfall this spring/summer to submit a waterfall flow rate report on our website at This takes less than 60 seconds and can be completed for all the major waterfalls within Starved Rock State Park. You can also attach photos/video clips of the waterfall.

Don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtag #starvedrockhikers when sharing all your spring hiking adventures! We’ll also do our best to keep hikers informed via our Hikers group on Facebook. Click here to join for free!

See you on the trail!!

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Every time you purchase a product from Starved Rock Hikers, you are also helping the park. A portion of our annual proceeds are donated to the Starved Rock Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Starved Rock & Matthiessen through educational programs, guided hikes, exhibit updates, and more.