Review: Cave-in-Rock State Park

Cave-in-Rock State Park is nestled on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River just east of the little town of Cave in Rock Illinois.  Although it is rather remote and isolated on the extreme southeastern edge of Illinois , we love this park. The park’s main attraction is a 55 foot wide cave that opens onto the Ohio River. When the river is not up, the cave is accessible via a trail along the riverbank. Note: There are many steps leading down to the river trail.

Settlers first discovered the cave in 1729 and it is mentioned in many diaries and accounts of those who passed down the Ohio to settle the area and beyond. The cave is infamous for the River Pirates that sometimes made it their home and famous for being part of the 1962 movie “How The West Was Won”.

Day trips to Tower Rock and Pounds Hollow Recreational Areas, Rim Rock Trail and Garden of The Gods will offer you plenty of hiking, picnicking and sightseeing adventures.

Great for a Picnic
There are four shelters and several pullouts with tables as well as three playgrounds.

Nice Campground
There are two adjoined areas for camping. The Class A campground is located on a bluff on the north side of the park. It has around 30-35 campsites with 20/30 amp. Electric hookups, grills and wooden tables. Most are fairly level and can accommodate equipment up to 50 ft. in length. The sites rent for $20/night ($30/night on holidays). The primitive area has about 20-25 Class B/S sites and is is located on a bluff just north of the lodge, they rent for $10/night.

Both the men’s and women’s shower house have two showers each, one being handicapped accessible.

Lodge Restaurant and Cabins
The restaurant serves a limited menu, but everything we have tried has been very good. The cabins are comfortable and sit high on a bluff overlooking the river.

Local amenities
There are two restaurants in the town of Cave in Rock, one is reliably open. They both offer a well-rounded variety of dishes, you will not be disappointed.

Things to be aware of before you visit

Gasoline and Propane are not available locally
The closest Gas Stations are in Elizabethtown IL (11 mi.) or Marion KY (12 mi) across the river (via Ferry).

Groceries are not available locally
There are 2 Grocery Stores in Marion KY (12 mi) across the river (via Ferry) and a small Grocery Store in Elizabethtown IL (11 mi.). Ice is available at the local restaurants.

Trash is by central dumpster
One dumpster by dump station.

Firewood availability
We did find camping firewood for sale locally. It can also be bought in some of the surrounding communities.

Showers are only open seasonally; usually by April 1st
There is no reduction in charges when the showers are not open. For the most part they are reliable, however we have had times when there have been temperature issues (too cold and too hot).

From Northern Illinois: Go south on I-57 exiting at Marion, IL, on highway 13 east. Go east through Marion and Harrisburg to the intersection of Illinois 1 and 13. Turn south 22 miles on highway 1 to Cave-in-Rock State Park.
From Western Kentucky: Take highway 90 from Marion, KY., and cross the Cave-in-Rock ferry and follow directional signs to the park entrance.
From the Southeast: Take I-24 west from the I-24 bridge to exit #16, then go 38 miles east on Illinois highway 146 to the park.
From Southern Indiana: Take highway 62 west out of Evansville, IN traveling across the Wabash bridge, then stay on Illinois highway 141 to Illinois Rt. 1, then go south 36 miles to Cave-in-Rock State Park.

For a more detailed information on the park visit IDNR