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Cave-in-Rock State Park, Cave in Rock

#11 of 37 in Nature in Illinois
State Park Nature / Park
Cave-In-Rock State Park is an Illinois state park, on 240 acres, in the town of Cave-in-Rock, Hardin County, Illinois in the United States. The state park contains the historic Cave-in-Rock, a landmark of the Ohio River. It is maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).GeologyThe Cave-in-Rock was worn into the limestone bluffs of the Ohio by river floods, especially during the meltoff following the Wisconsin ice age. It is not a karstland cavern like Mammoth Cave in nearby Kentucky; it is an obvious, 55ft tunnel leading a long distance into the bluff.HistoryCave-in-Rock was known and used for thousands of years by the Native Americans. It was mapped and named in 1729 by the French explorer M. de Lery, who named it the Caverne dans le Roc. This name, translated directly into English, is the name the cave bears to this day.During the 1790s and the first three decades of the 19th century, Cave-in-Rock reached the height of its notoriety. Flatboats carrying farm produce from Kentucky, Ohio, and southern Indiana began to float down the Ohio River towards the marketplace in New Orleans. As a known Ohio River landmark, the cave was a landmark of this dangerous journey. From approximately 1797 until 1799, the cave was a hideout for a notorious gang of bandits, headed by Samuel Mason, that preyed upon the lawless river commerce. The outlaws Frank and Jesse James of the notorious James Gang also hid out in the cave, according to local lore, leaving their marks in the cave.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
115 reviews
  • This is a really cool cave. It was fun and quick to explore. You need old, non-slippery shoes, though, because the floor of the cave is very slick.  more »
  • Camped for two nights in the park, well maintained and nice! The facilities were clean! The cave was great!  more »
  • State park along the banks of the Ohio River. The attraction is the cave, of course. It is down a stairway, so definitely is not handicapped accessible. It is a surprisingly large cave, almost a littl...  more »
  • This place is wonderful! Of course, we came for the cave and ignored almost everything else. Lol The campground was clean but since we were there off season, the water was shut off. We never went into the bathroom or showers. (The little town down the road seemed closed also.) Back to the cave! This is such an awesome natural landmark everyone should stop by. And, looking at all the names carved on the cave's wall, they have! There is a lot of history in this area (think river pirates . . .exciting. Yea?) We had the place to ourselves because of the season, early spring. This allowed us plenty of time to wonder. The steps down to the cave were a little steep, wear good stout shoes for the climb. If caves don't bother you walk all the way back into the darkness. There are ceiling cracks that let in the daylight once you reach the back. I tried to imagine living there; and while I'm sure people had their reasons, it wouldn't work for me. I'm spoiled! Exploring then heading back to the RV, that's perfect. All the little crevices and cracks filled with tree roots and moss were a delightful tangle of nature. We walked along the cave's river front marveling at the tumbled rock face. Back up the trail onto the top of the rocks the view along the river stretched for miles. Treat yourself and find time to visit. Its well worth the trip.
  • Nice location, secluded. The cabin did feel a little dated (furniture, carpet, decor) so that's the only negative. Beds weren't super comfy, but it was a place to sleep. The view made up for it though. Awesome view of the river and surrounding area.
  • Quiet park, shady but open sites, short walk to cave. An owl came and sat in a tree across from our site! Saw a beautiful sunset from our site. Free ferry ride across river to KY.
  • Simply amazing rock formation. Experience the grandeur and temperature change once inside cave. I highly recommend. Easy hiking for day trippers.
  • Once you finally find it, it's pretty cool. Just make sure you have more on your schedule. This is a great place for a fun little detour and nothing much else.

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