Illinois, Hardin County, Cave-in-Rock
river mile 880
The rolling hills of Cave-in-Rock State Park are charming. The campground has ample wide generous sites arranged in a rolling mowed lawn shaded by large deciduous trees. There are a number of large picnic shelters, some with big grills, sited at scenic locations on the tops of hills. There is a restaurant, of local country family restaurant style, and four large cabins with all the amenities perched on the bluff high above the Ohio. The campground restrooms and showers are clean and well-maintained. All the playgrounds are modern.
The focus of the park is the large cave that juts into the limestone bluff facing the river. It is reachable from the cave parking lot by climbing steps up one side of the bluff, then a classic series of elegant stairs down to river level on the other side of the bluff. Travellers down the Ohio in earlier centuries certainly would have enjoyed stopping here. On the sweltering humid day the research team visited it was refreshingly dark and cool, though not very deep. An informative plaque describes the legends attached to it, through more about its distinctive geology would be helpful.
Bicyclists would have no difficulty using the park’s facilities. Paddlers will find it more difficult. Unlike many similar parks, there is no direct access to the water, though the ferry slip is several blocks downstream. Adding more of that access would enhance the attractiveness of the park enormously.
Next park: Cave-in-Rock ferry
Field research June 2018