Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*
Illinois tribes of native Americans inhabited the region until 1730 when the Sauk and the Fox tribes, who were being forced westward by the colonists, invaded and inhabited the region. The native Americans called the river in the new territory "Sinnissippi," meaning "Rocky waters."
In the early 1800s the native Americans were again forced westward into Iowa. In 1831, Blackhawk, the Sauk chief, led his people in a series of raids back into Illinois to reclaim their ancestral lands. The battles that followed were known as the Blackhawk Indian wars. Chief Blackhawk was captured in 1832 and ordered to a reservation.
The Castle Rock area was settled by New Englanders early in the 19th century. This area was proposed as a state park in 1921 by the "Friends of Our Native Landscape," and they were able to acquire some of the land they described as "a unique wilderness remnant of great natural beauty and scientific interest." In 1964, the Natural Lands Institute, a non-profit natural lands preservation group, conducted a public fundraising campaign to preserve part of the Castle Rock area.
Castle Rock was recognized in the state of Illinois as an outstanding area of major scientific importance in 1965. It was established as a project area, and land acquisition by the State was started in 1970.
At the present time, Castle Rock consists of approximately 2,000 acres, 710 of which are designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. The site was dedicated as a state park in 1978.
- Natural Features and Nature Preserve-
The basis for the acquisition of Castle Rock State Park is the protection of natural resouces that are unique to Illinois. A thin layer of glacial till covers this region and several distinctive plant species, remnants of the native forest and prairie, still exist. In one valley, 27 different types of ferns have been identified. The park is one of the largest significant natural areas in the northern part of Illinois.
Most of the outstanding natural features are located in the dedicated Nature Preserve which is protected by state law. Use of the 710-acre preserve will be restricted to scientific study and limited interpretation activities.
Recreation - Picnicking-
There are three picnic areas available for use with shelters, picnic tables, playground equipment, grills, toilets, and drinking water. There are also scattered tables for use along the river. One of the picnic areas offers a beautiful view over the Rock River Valley. Two of the park's shelters may be reserved with a fee.
There are six miles of marked hiking trails developed at this time. These trails offer the opportunity to view woodland animals and birds that inhabit the park. The trails' scenic views also offer many chances for the photographers to sharpen their skills. More trails are planned with the park's development. Cross-country skiing and tobogganing are also available when weather permits.
Fishing and Boating-
All the fishing is done in the Rock River. The park offers one and one-half miles of bank fishing. There is also a boat ramp available for public use. Boat size is limited due to the varying depth of the river. The most commonly caught fish is the catfish, but some bass, northern, walleye, and crappie may be taken.
Limited squirrel, turkey and deer hunting is available at the park. For more information, please contact the park office.
Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.
Castle Rock State Park is located on IL Hwy 2, 4 miles south of Oregon, IL., 12 miles north of Dixon, IL.