State Calls On NIU For Help With Starved Rock Crowds

Oct 7, 2019

State officials are looking for help to address crowding at Starved Rock State Park.

More than two million people visit the popular park each year. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Starved Rock Lodge turned to Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies to study the problem.

The park nearly doubled in size thanks to a land purchase last year, but NIU researcher Mim Evans says managing the crowds is a complex issue.

“It’s going to be not an overnight fix," she said. "There’s a lot of components that could go into a remedy for what the parks’ challenges are and also bring it to the next level.”

The CGS report looked at how other state and national parks deal with the issue. That includes the possible use of entry fees and reservation systems. Other suggestions include more attractions, like zip lines and water parks. Another suggestion is guiding visitors to nearby parks with similar offerings. Evans hopes the report’s findings can help the state make the best use of the park.