Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Cave Rock, Illinois

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Rockin’ Around Cave Rock: The Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit in Illinois’ Coolest Cavern

Are you looking for a fun and exciting vacation spot? Look no further than Cave Rock, Illinois! This hidden gem in the Midwest has something for everyone, from historical landmarks to outdoor adventures, and everything in between. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or solo, Cave Rock is sure to delight and entertain.

The Lure of Cave Rock is undeniable. Nestled on the banks of the Ohio River, this charming town is steeped in history and natural beauty. Take a stroll through Cave-in-Rock State Park and marvel at the magnificent limestone cave that gives the town its name. Or, explore the many historical landmarks, such as the Cave-in-Rock Ferry, which has been in operation since 1929. And don’t forget to sample the local cuisine, which is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Key Takeaways

  • Cave Rock, Illinois is a charming vacation spot with something for everyone.
  • The town is steeped in history and natural beauty, with attractions such as Cave-in-Rock State Park and the Cave-in-Rock Ferry.
  • Don’t forget to sample the local cuisine, which is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

The Lure of Cave Rock

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable adventure, Cave Rock in Illinois is the place to be. This landmark is a must-visit for anyone who loves exploring the great outdoors. The rock formations and rocks in this area are truly awe-inspiring, and the natural beauty of southern Illinois is on full display here.

Cave Rock is located in Cave-In-Rock State Park, and it’s one of the most popular attractions in the area. This massive rock formation is over 55 feet tall, and it’s been a landmark in the region for centuries. The rock gets its name from the small cave that’s located near the top of the formation. It’s said that this cave was once used as a hideout by pirates who roamed the Ohio River.

But don’t worry, you won’t need to fend off any pirates during your visit to Cave Rock. Instead, you can take a leisurely hike to the top of the formation and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The hike is relatively easy, and it only takes a few minutes to reach the top. Once you’re there, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view that stretches for miles.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even climb up to the small cave at the top of the rock. This is a great spot to take some photos and enjoy the view. Just be careful, as the climb can be a bit steep in places.

Overall, Cave Rock is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a fun day trip, this landmark has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and get ready to explore one of the most beautiful spots in southern Illinois.

Historical Highlights

Ahoy there, matey! Did you know that Cave in Rock has a rich history of piracy and outlaw activity? Yes, you read that right. This small town on the banks of the Ohio River was once a notorious hideout for river pirates who would prey on unsuspecting travelers and merchants passing by.

Legend has it that the infamous pirate Samuel Mason used the cave as his base of operations in the late 1700s. He and his gang would lure ships into the cave, rob them blind, and then dispose of any evidence by throwing it into the river. It’s said that the cave was so well-hidden that it was nearly impossible for authorities to catch the pirates in the act.

But the history of Cave in Rock goes back even further than that. The cave itself was formed millions of years ago by the erosive power of the Ohio River. Native Americans used the cave for shelter and rituals long before European settlers arrived. Later, the cave was used by settlers and Abraham Lincoln himself is said to have visited the site in 1840.

Today, you can explore the cave and learn about its fascinating history at Cave-in-Rock State Park. The park also features a museum with exhibits on the area’s pirate and outlaw past. So put on your eye patch and get ready to set sail on a journey through history!

Natural Wonders

You’re in Cave Rock, Illinois, and you’re surrounded by natural wonders. From the majestic bluffs overlooking the Ohio River to the serene lakes and wetlands, the area is a feast for the senses. Here are some of the best natural wonders you must see:

Cave-in-Rock State Park

The Cave-in-Rock State Park is home to the famous cave that gave the park its name. The cave is a natural wonder that was carved out of limestone by the Ohio River thousands of years ago. It’s a popular destination for visitors who want to explore its depths and learn about its history. But be careful, the uneven dirt and rock floors can be slippery, so watch your step!

Shawnee National Forest

The Shawnee National Forest is a hidden gem that’s waiting to be explored. It’s a vast area of forests, wetlands, and nature trails that are home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including deer, birds, and fish. It’s a great place to go camping, hiking, or just to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Lake Tecumseh

Lake Tecumseh is a beautiful lake that’s perfect for fishing, swimming, or just relaxing. It’s located south of the Illinois Iron Furnace and is accessible via a 20-minute drive from Cave-in-Rock. The lake is mostly secluded, so it’s one of the best places to cast your line. The trails here have some of the best lakeside views, ideal for photography.

Overlooks and Scenic Views

If you’re looking for breathtaking views, Cave Rock has plenty of them. The bluffs overlooking the Ohio River provide stunning vistas that are perfect for taking photos. You can also take a hike along the nature trails that wind through the forests and wetlands. The views are even more spectacular during the fall when the leaves change colors.

Wildlife and Plants

Cave Rock is home to an incredible variety of wildlife and plants. You’ll see everything from deer and birds to plants and grasses. The wetlands are particularly rich in plant and animal life. It’s a great place to take a nature walk and observe the beauty of the natural world.

In conclusion, Cave Rock, Illinois, is a nature lover’s paradise. Whether you’re exploring the cave, hiking through the forests, or just enjoying the views, you’re sure to be amazed by the natural wonders that surround you.

Outdoor Adventures

Ah, the great outdoors! Cave-in-Rock State Park is a nature lover’s paradise, with acres of forest and the namesake cavern. If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking the park’s trails and taking in the breathtaking views. You can also try your hand at fishing in the Ohio River or camping under the stars, just make sure to bring plenty of bug spray!

For the more adventurous types, Tunnel Hill State Trail is a must-visit. This 45-mile trail runs from downtown Harrisburg to Karnak in southern Illinois. You can hike, bike, or even horseback ride along the scenic route. Just be sure to watch out for any stray turtles or snakes along the way!

If you’re looking for a thrill, why not try your hand at rock climbing? Garden of the Gods is a popular destination for climbers of all skill levels. With stunning views and challenging routes, you’ll definitely get your adrenaline pumping. Just remember to bring your own gear and climb at your own risk.

For those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, kayaking and canoeing are great options. You can rent a kayak or canoe and explore the Ohio River at your own pace. Just be sure to wear a life jacket and stay alert for any obstacles in the water.

No matter what kind of outdoor adventure you’re looking for, Cave-in-Rock State Park and the surrounding areas have something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your gear, and get ready for an unforgettable experience in the great outdoors!

Culinary Delights

You can’t visit Cave Rock without indulging in some of the local cuisine. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, whether you’re in the mood for something fancy or casual.

If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, head to The Blue Boar for some delicious American cuisine. This restaurant is known for its elegant atmosphere and extensive wine list. Plus, the chef has a way of turning even the simplest ingredients into something truly extraordinary.

For a more laid-back vibe, check out The Lodge at Cave-in-Rock. This restaurant serves up classic American fare, like burgers and fries, in a cozy lodge setting. Plus, they have a great selection of beers on tap.

If you’re in the mood for some pizza, look no further than Little Italy Pizza. This family-owned restaurant has been serving up delicious pies for over 20 years. Try the “Cave Rock Special” for a pizza that’s loaded with toppings.

For a quick bite, stop by The Cave-Inn for some tasty bar food. They have everything from wings to nachos to sandwiches. Plus, the prices are reasonable, so you won’t break the bank.

No matter where you decide to eat, you’re sure to find some delicious culinary delights in Cave Rock. Just be sure to bring your appetite!

Accommodation Options

After a long day of exploring all the fun things to do in Cave Rock, Illinois, you’ll want to rest your weary head somewhere comfortable. Luckily, there are a variety of accommodation options available to suit your needs and budget.


If you’re looking for a cozy and comfortable place to stay, Cave Rock has a number of hotels to choose from. The Rock Inn Motel is a popular choice for travelers, offering clean and affordable rooms with all the basic amenities you need. Plus, their family-style restaurant serves up delicious meals that will satisfy any appetite.

For those who prefer a more luxurious stay, the Cave-in-Rock State Park Lodge and Cabins offer upscale accommodations with stunning views of the surrounding nature. The lodge features comfortable rooms with modern amenities, while the cabins provide a more rustic experience for those who want to get back to nature.


If you’re an outdoorsy type, you’ll want to check out the campgrounds in Cave Rock. The Cave-in-Rock State Park Campground is a great option for those who want to be close to all the action. With over 34 campsites available, you’ll have plenty of space to pitch your tent and enjoy the great outdoors.

For those who want to take their camping experience to the next level, the Shawnee Forest Campground offers a more rustic experience. With primitive campsites and no electricity, you’ll truly feel like you’re roughing it in the wilderness. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of modern amenities available, including showers and restrooms.

No matter what your accommodation needs are, Cave Rock has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore all that this beautiful town has to offer.

Special Events & Festivals

You don’t need a reason to visit Cave Rock, Illinois, but if you want to add a little extra excitement to your trip, check out some of the special events and festivals that take place throughout the year.

One of the biggest events in Cave Rock is the Annual Cave Rock Fall Festival. This festival is held every October and features live music, food vendors, craft booths, and plenty of family-friendly activities. You can also take a hayride, pick out a pumpkin, or try your luck at the corn maze. It’s a great way to celebrate the season and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather.

If you’re a fan of classic cars, you won’t want to miss the Annual Cave Rock Car Show. This event takes place every August and features hundreds of vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles. You can admire the vehicles, talk to the owners, and enjoy some delicious food and drinks from the vendors. It’s a great way to spend a summer day and appreciate some automotive history.

For something a little more quirky, check out the Annual Cave Rock UFO Festival. This event takes place every June and celebrates the town’s reputation as a hotspot for UFO sightings. You can attend lectures about extraterrestrial life, watch sci-fi movies, and even participate in an alien costume contest. Who knows, you might even spot a UFO while you’re there!

No matter what time of year you visit Cave Rock, there’s always something fun and exciting going on. So pack your bags, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to experience all the special events and festivals this charming town has to offer.

Travel Tips & Essentials

Congratulations! You’re about to embark on a journey to Cave Rock, Illinois, and we’ve got some travel tips and essentials to make your trip a success.

For the Road Trippers

If you’re taking a road trip to Cave Rock, make sure you pack some snacks and drinks to keep you energized and hydrated during the journey. Also, don’t forget to bring a map or a GPS device in case you get lost. And please, for the love of all that is holy, take turns driving and don’t try to be a hero by driving for hours on end. Your safety and the safety of others on the road are more important than arriving at your destination a few minutes earlier.

For the Travelers

If you’re flying to Cave Rock, make sure you book your tickets in advance to get the best deals. Also, don’t forget to pack a travel pillow and a blanket to make your flight more comfortable. And if you’re traveling with kids, make sure you bring some games and activities to keep them entertained during the flight.

For the Sports Enthusiasts

If you’re planning on engaging in any sports activities while in Cave Rock, make sure you bring appropriate clothing and gear. For example, if you’re going hiking, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring a backpack with water and snacks. And if you’re going fishing, don’t forget to bring your fishing rod and bait.

For the Tours

If you’re planning on taking a tour of Cave Rock, make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment. Also, make sure you bring a camera to capture all the beautiful sights and memories. And if you’re taking a guided tour, don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage with your guide. They’re there to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

For Transportation

If you’re planning on using public transportation while in Cave Rock, make sure you familiarize yourself with the schedules and routes. And if you’re driving, make sure you obey traffic rules and regulations. Also, don’t forget to fill up your gas tank before embarking on any long journeys.

For Cleanliness

Please be respectful of the environment and keep Cave Rock clean and beautiful. Don’t litter and make sure you dispose of your trash properly. And if you’re camping, make sure you follow Leave No Trace principles and leave your campsite better than you found it.

For the Flashlight

Lastly, don’t forget to bring a flashlight with you. Cave Rock has some beautiful natural caves that you can explore, but they can be dark and treacherous without proper lighting. Stay safe and enjoy your adventure!

Shopping & Souvenirs

You can’t leave Cave Rock without some souvenirs to remember your trip. Luckily, there are plenty of shopping options in the area. Here are some of the best places to shop for souvenirs and more:

Cave-in-Rock Souvenir Shop: This shop is located right near the entrance of the Cave-in-Rock State Park, making it a convenient stop for all your souvenir needs. You’ll find everything from t-shirts and hats to keychains and magnets. Don’t forget to grab a postcard to send to your jealous friends back home!

The Rock Shop: If you’re looking for unique gifts and souvenirs, The Rock Shop is the place to go. This family-owned shop has been in business for over 30 years and features a wide variety of rocks, minerals, and fossils. You can also find jewelry, home decor, and other one-of-a-kind items.

Pages Bookstore: Who says souvenirs have to be cheesy? Pages Bookstore offers a great selection of books, including many about the history and natural wonders of Cave Rock and the surrounding area. You can also find locally-made crafts and gifts, such as pottery and candles.

Elizabethtown Flea Market: For a more eclectic shopping experience, head to the Elizabethtown Flea Market. You never know what you might find among the vendors’ offerings, which range from antique furniture to handmade soaps. It’s a great place to hunt for treasures and unique souvenirs.

No matter where you choose to shop, you’re sure to find something to remember your trip to Cave Rock. And who knows, you might even discover a new favorite store or item along the way!

Beyond Cave Rock

So you’ve explored Cave Rock and now you’re wondering what else there is to do in the area? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other fun things to do and places to visit in the vicinity.

If you’re up for a bit of a drive, head to the Windy City of Chicago. Take in the breathtaking views from the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, or stroll along the iconic Navy Pier. Check out the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum or take a walk down the famous Route 66.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a flight over the stunning Lake Michigan or hop on a cruise down the Illinois River. For a more laid-back experience, visit the charming town of Savanna and check out the local galleries.

For those interested in nature, head over to Garden of the Gods or Starved Rock State Park. Take a hike and marvel at the beautiful landscapes or learn about the endangered species that call Illinois home.

If you’re looking for more historic landmarks, Tower Rock and the Cave-in-Rock Ferry are both worth a visit. And of course, don’t forget about the other state parks in the area, like Shawnee National Forest and Ferries Cave-in-Rock State Park.

So don’t limit yourself to just Cave Rock – there’s plenty to see and do in the Land of Lincoln. Get out there and explore!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the deal with Cave-in-Rock, Illinois?

Well, my curious friend, Cave-in-Rock is a small village in Illinois that’s home to one of the most unique and fascinating natural wonders in the United States. The village is named after the famous 55-foot wide cave that sits on the banks of the Ohio River. The cave was once a hideout for river pirates and bandits, but nowadays it’s a popular tourist attraction that draws visitors from all over the world.

Can you actually go inside Cave-in-Rock?

Yes, you can! The cave is open to visitors year-round, and you can explore its depths on a guided tour. Just be sure to bring a flashlight, as it can get pretty dark in there. And don’t worry, there aren’t any pirates or bandits lurking around anymore.

What’s the best way to get to Cave-in-Rock?

Well, you could always swim across the Ohio River, but we don’t recommend it. The easiest way to get to Cave-in-Rock is by car. The village is located about 150 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, and about 140 miles northwest of Nashville, Tennessee. If you’re flying in, the nearest airport is in Paducah, Kentucky, which is about an hour’s drive away.

Why is Cave Rock State Park so great?

Oh, where do we begin? First of all, the park is home to some of the most breathtaking views of the Ohio River you’ll ever see. It’s also a great place for hiking, fishing, and camping. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the local wildlife, like deer, bald eagles, and even the occasional black bear.

Where’s the best place to stay at Cave-in-Rock?

Well, that depends on your personal preferences. If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience, then Cave-in-Rock State Park has plenty of campsites to choose from. If you prefer something a little more comfortable, then there are several hotels and motels in the nearby towns of Elizabethtown and Rosiclare. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you could always try sleeping in the cave. Just make sure you bring a sleeping bag!

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