If you’re an Illinois paddler looking for an exciting adventure, make sure to visit the stunning Starved Rock State Park. Located centrally, this park offers a variety of paddling experiences that won’t disappoint. Join a group of fellow paddlers and embark on a journey filled with beautiful landscapes, thrilling encounters, and unforgettable memories.
In June 2007, a group of around 10 paddlers, including myself, set off on a thrilling journey to Starved Rock State Park. We began our adventure at the Peru, IL put-in, conveniently located along Interstate 39. Following the directions provided by Bill68 and LittleRed, we reached the Sportsman’s Club and Public boat launch, nestled on a picturesque sandy beach.
The paddle to Starved Rock State Park and back covered approximately 14.7 miles, with the option to explore the Vermilion River for an added distance. The weather was perfect, with clear skies, sunshine, and a pleasant temperature of 78F. Our group consisted of paddlers from various locations, including central WI, Downers Grove, Lemont, Bloomington, and Champaign. It was thanks to Paddling.net that we could come together, plan, and share our experiences online.
The day was truly memorable, filled with exciting moments and new friendships. One of the highlights was encountering Chuck_IL along the way, as he guided us throughout the trip, effortlessly moving from the rear to the front of the group, ensuring everyone was on the same page. Another standout paddler was Silverwave, who fearlessly tackled the water in her Necky Chatham 17, slicing through waves with ease.
As we paddled upstream, we stumbled upon a surprising addition to our group, Fishdoc, who arrived 30 minutes after we had set off. His Swift Shearwater canoe became the “Canoe Police Vehicle” of the day. It was an incredible sight to witness the agility and strength of these experienced paddlers.
Encounter with the Asian Carp
Our journey took an unexpected turn when we encountered the notorious Asian Carp. These magnificent silver fish were seen jumping in schools, creating a breathtaking display. However, as we paddled further, the carp became more daring, swimming perilously close to our boats.
In the midst of the chaos, I had a sudden encounter with one of these leaping giants, which resulted in an unplanned capsize. Fortunately, my fellow paddler, Chuck_IL, executed a swift and seamless rescue. While the situation was momentarily tense, we managed to laugh it off later, realizing the comedic element of the experience.
A Delightful Lunch Break
Finally arriving at Starved Rock, we were greeted by PJumper and LRed, who drove up in matching Nissan SUVs. Initially, we thought they were park rangers, ready to reprimand us for fishing without a license. However, they surprised us by offering a ride to the Lodge atop the hill, saving us from a strenuous climb. The lodge not only provided a scenic view but also served as the perfect spot for a delightful lunch. We enjoyed great conversations, laughter, and the company of wonderful people.
Accommodations and Tips
If you plan to visit Starved Rock State Park, there are various accommodation options available. The park offers camping facilities and lodging, so it’s recommended to book in advance. However, if you prefer staying in a hotel, you can find options in Peru, IL, or just outside the park. Starved Rock itself offers outdoor dining with a selection of simple food and refreshing beverages.
Remember, having an Illinois license for paddlecraft is mandatory before starting your adventure. Ensure you acquire your license beforehand to avoid any last-minute hassles. The park is easily accessible and marked prominently on any Illinois map. If you have time, explore the park itself, as it offers its own unique charm.
Our full-day adventure at Starved Rock State Park was an absolute blast. From the captivating scenery to the unexpected encounters with the Asian Carp, every moment was filled with excitement and camaraderie. The paddling community thrives on shared experiences and the joy of exploring new waters. So, whether you’re a seasoned paddler or just beginning your journey, seize the opportunity to paddle at Starved Rock State Park. It promises to be an unforgettable experience.
For more information about paddling adventures and equipment, visit East Coast Paddle Sports.