Visiting Cave-In-Rock State Park In Illinois
Cave-In-Rock State Park is located in the town of Cave-in-Rock, Hardin County, Illinois.
The park was established in 1929 and totals 204 acres. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 6, 1998.
The cave was originally discovered by French explorer M. de Lery.
The star of the park is the massive 55-foot-wide cave worn into the limestone bluffs on the banks of the Ohio River. Wind, erosion, and floods led to the formation of the cave and its tunnel entrance.
The cave has a rich history including being used as a hideout for pirates and bandits.
From the parking lot take the steps down and make a left to reach the cave. I had seen pictures before we visited, but it’s so much bigger in person.
You are allowed to enter and explore the cave at your leisure. The entrance is a long tunnel that leads to a large open room in the back. A crack in the ceiling allows water to pour inside during storms.
It’s just an impressive cave.
After exploring the cave take a walk along the shoreline of the river and check out all the equally cool rock outcroppings along the way.
While walking the shore you might just get to see the ferry crossing the river. It carries cars across the Ohio River from Illinois Route 1 to Kentucky Route 91.
There are two hiking trails in the park named Pirates Bluff and Hickory Ridge Trail. We attempted to do the hikes here but didn’t have much luck.
We started the trail in the campground (it’s located behind site #21) and followed the Pirates Bluff route. We ended at the bluff, we think, but couldn’t find the rest of the loop so had to backtrack.
I believe we did part of Hickory Ridge too, but can’t be certain.
The trails are not well marked at all and the website offers no descriptions. There were a number of inclines and descents and I didn’t really enjoy the hike.
They need better trail markers and actual trail descriptions on their site.
Pets are allowed on trails here and in the cave. Just be sure they are leashed and pick up after them.
The park was only 15 minutes from our camping spot and we really enjoyed exploring the cave and walking the river bank. If you are in the area I would definitely take the time to go check out the cave.
I would skip the hikes though.
There is a campground in the park with electric hook-ups, restrooms, and a shower house. A dump station with potable water is also available as well as a dumpster for trash.
There is a restaurant on the premises and cabins overlooking the river to rent.
The 1956 movie Davy Crockett and the River Pirates and the 1962 movie How the West was Won featured the cave in movie scenes.
The 1999 In Search of History series, Episode: River Pirates, also featured the cave.