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Starved Rock Country

Those who have visited Starved Rock Country know it’s the best place in northern Illinois to find outdoor adventure – and Historic Ottawa is the perfect jumping-off point. The natural, archaeological, and historic aspects of Starved Rock Country allow you to experience the nature of life along the riverbanks. From Ottawa to Starved Rock, all along the National Historic Scenic By-way down to Havana, you can experience the seasonal colors and rhythms of the forests, rivers, wetlands, bluffs and prairies that make Starved Rock Country unique.
Start with the Illinois River, launching from premium boat ramps at Heritage Harbor Ottawa located about a mile from Quest’s facility. You’ll find easy, uncrowded access to 12+ miles of beautiful, wide-open boating. Whether cruising or kayaking, make a day of enjoying beautiful shoreline, sand beaches, rock cliffs (including Starved Rock and Buffalo Rock State Parks), hideaways and multiple food & beverage destinations.
From there the sky is the limit – literally! We’re boaters, skiers and kayakers of course, but just a few of the other adventures that await are skydiving, aircraft club/lessons, gliders, horseback riding, off-roading/ATV tracks, canoeing, white water rafting, paintball, fishing, archery, hunting, motorcycle riding, cross-country skiing, curling, ice skating, eagle/bird-watching, and yoga. The list goes on from there…

Ottawa’s location is our great advantage. Starved Rock Country is only ninety minutes from downtown Chicago (much less from many suburbs); you won’t have to spend hours in a car trying to get away to your sanctuary – and you won’t be too far away when it comes time to head home. We are close to everything but far from ordinary!  In Starved Rock Country you can explore outdoor Illinois while you discover yourself.

Consider this your personal invitation; drop in anytime and we’ll be happy to guide you to the best spots along the river and throughout Starved Rock Country…

See more of Starved Rock Country at or on Facebook.

Boating on the Illinois River

Boating on the Illinois River is one of the Midwest’s best kept boating secrets.  Aside from being far less crowded than most lakes, particularly in Northern Illinois, the scenery on the River is fantastic!  Flowing through the heart of Starved Rock Country, it’s absolutely the best way to witness numerous natural areas including Starved Rock and Buffalo Rock State Parks, and the natural bluffs that line the shore.  

There’s also plenty of room to boat; Members are allowed to ply the entire 13 mile length of the “Ottawa Pool,”  which runs from Marseilles Lock to Stareved Rock Lock.  No “going round in circles” like on many lakes!  Aside from the state parks, wildlife and natural areas mentioned, Members enjoy the ability to dock free of charge at downtown Ottawa, where numerous restaurants and other activities abound.  “Bob’s Beach” is one of numerous areas where boaters anchor to enjoy their surroundings and socialize a bit.  And there are numerous islands along the River, which not only add to the scenery, but create side channels to explore by boat.  

Perhaps the Members’ favorite aspect of River boating is how easy it is – even on a windy day with other boat traffic, the waves are rarely very high.  Boating is almost always very comfortable vs. a big lake, and activites like tubing and skiing are possible just about any time.  No need to have to get up early to “beat the traffic” or wait until the middle of the week to have your fun!  

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