Cave in Rock State Park


Looking at the cave from the Kentucky side of the Ohio river. The whole photo encompasses Cave-in Rock State Park. The cave can barely be seen to the right.

When my husband told me he wanted to go to ‘Cave in Rock’ State Park, I thought there may be lots of landslides there… Punctuation and emphasis are heavy’s in this phrase. For I took it as ‘Cave-in! Rock!’ or as in ‘the Rock is Caving in’. The true definition is ‘Cave IN Rock’ as in ‘there is a cave in this rock’. I’m not sure where else there may be a cave? Anyone?


Now we’re right over the cave. This is a good 40′ feet high and a straight drop in. The coolest thing is that we could see the large (invasive) Asian carp swimming below.

Cave-In-Rock in southern Illinois sits atop the high bluffs overlooking the scenic Ohio River and surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. The heavily wooded park is named for the 55-foot-wide cave that was carved out of the limestone rock by water thousands of years ago.

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Here are the limestone walls near the cave and the entrance of the cave. Limestone formations were formed via the glaciers and the nearby Ohio river.

The first European explorer to visit this area was M. de Lery of France, who in 1729 called it ‘caverne dans Le Roc’. The cave was frequently mentioned by later travelers in diaries and journals.

We saw too much graffiti in the cave, whether it be spray paint or carving. So sad. Why do people feel the need to cause such destruction. Leave some rock stack art instead!! It was fascinating tho, that during the year of 2011, many names were added to the ceiling. Yes, that means the water was that high!


All the colorful minerals. There is just a bit of light coming from the nearby crack in the ceiling.

The cave served as a backdrop for a scene in the movie “How The West Was Won”. The scene was a near-accurate portrayal of how, in the 18th and 19th centuries, ruthless bandits used the cave to lure unsuspecting travelers to an untimely end.

In 1929, the State of Illinois acquired 64.5 acres for a park that since has increased to 204 acres. The well-wooded, 60-foot-high hills and the rugged bluffs along the river – commanding expansive views of the famous waterway – became Cave-In-Rock State Park.



Lookin’ out onto the Ohio river.


Holes in the walls have become bird houses.


Petrified wood in the limestone.

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All the boys in a nearby alcove, the boys and me at the entrance to the cave.


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The light that lights up the main cavern comes from this crack.


Little Oreo has been in rivers, but none as large as the Ohio. When a barge passed and created a few waves at the shore, Oreo didn’t understand and growled and bit at the waves.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

24 thoughts on “Cave in Rock State Park

    • I’ve not run into any problems yet with bringing the dogs. Maybe some trails where they aren’t allowed, although that didn’t stop anyone from bringing them!
      The only time I was a bit miffed was when a private campground charged me $10 per dog, per day! I asked why they didn’t charge the same for children! They said children don’t leave poo in the grass… I slammed them in a review site and have not gone back.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had more trouble at national parks out west – they have absurd dog policies which basically prevent people with dogs from using the parks unless they have a place to leave the dogs. The eastern parks are far better – Shenandoah was positively great, as was Acadia. But state parks have always treated us well.

        And I would have been highly displeased by a $10 fee at a campground – I hate paying the fees at hotels, but I do see that Choppy may leave more hair around than your typical guest and require more cleaning. But a campground? That is just absurd.


        • I have found some parts of trails in Wisconsin and Denver that have not allowed dogs on them. I get it when they are horse trails, but not normal hiking trails.
          I also see many dogs off leash. I don’t tolerate that unless the dog is trained to 100% listen to it’s owner. Lack of poop pick up is a strong number two… (HeeHee!!) That is why I feel responsible dog owners lost the battle. Sigh. I maintain that children cause just as much damage…
          Luckily, the ‘fee’ campground was the only one we’ve run into so far. The bad part, is our good friends are seasonals there! waa,waa,waa.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Camping at Cave in Rock State Park | Midwestern Plants

  2. Years ago on a vacation trip, Cave-in-Rock was one of the places I wanted to see, but time ran short and the closest I got was Metropolis, Illinois (on the Ohio River), “home” of Superman. Thank you for the beautiful pix, so I could see what I missed!


    • Glad I could be off assistance!
      It really was a cool cave, although there’s more impressive spelunking a bit south in Kentucky/Tennessee. The area was just beautiful with it’s mix of sycamore, oak and tulips trees to make an arborist go ‘oooo’! If you come back thru the area, be sure to hit Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee Forest. Now, that place had some FaB geology goin’ on there. I think the post fires off tomorrow.. stick around 😉


    • I didn’t follow suit with other websites that make it out to be more than it is. “This may or may not have been a hideout for the notorious Mr. XXX…” Eh, it’s a cave… I get it tho. It’s fun to have stories to go along with things. It supposedly was a bar at one time. I can see that. A hot day going down the river and you can get cool in a cave (it was cool in there during our 94 degree day!!) and blow the froth off a few. My kinda cave!!


  3. Pingback: Phavorite Photos from 2015 – Part 2 | Midwestern Plants

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