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Illinois River Valley - Frequently Asked Questions

Presented below are frequently asked questions about houseboat rentals and houseboating on Illinois River Valley. If you need additional assistance, please contact us toll-free at 888-454-8825 or click here to submit a request for more guidance. Our friendly and knowledgeable Houseboat Rental Agents are always happy to help.

Houseboating season on the Illinois River is typically beginning of May through September. Summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) is the most popular and is the busiest season. However, fall offers Indian Summer days with cooler nights. View a month-by-month list of temperatures here: Average Temperatures.

The maximum capacity on any houseboat is the amount it sleeps. This is a regulation set by the Coast Guard.

50’ Captain Houseboat: 8 people maximum

60’ Admiral Houseboat: 12 people maximum

To rent from Starved Rock Adventures, the renter must be at least 21 years of age with a valid drivers’ license.

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed at the Illinois River Valley.

There is no special licensing or prior experience required to operate these houseboat rentals; just a valid drivers' license. The marina staff will go over operations and regulations in an orientation upon your arrival.

The cost of a houseboat vacation is based on a few variables: what time of year you plan to visit, what size of houseboat, how long of a trip, etc. See our Pricing Page for more details

Generally, people reserve about 6 months in advance. But it's always a good idea to make a reservation as soon as you're ready, especially if you have specific dates in mind or if you're planning a trip over a holiday weekend or on a special promotion.

Give us a call at 888-454-8825. Our reservation agents are happy to check availability or confirm your vacation.

Alternatively, you may Contact Us Online with your availability request, and one of our agents will get back to you with the information you need.

To reserve:

  • A deposit of $350 for the 50’ Captain, $500 for the 60’ Admiral, is due upon booking by credit card over the phone. This amount applies toward your total like a down payment
  • The remaining rental amount is due 45 days prior to your arrival
  • There is also a security deposit due upon arrival: $500 on 50’ Captain if damage waiver is purchased, $1000 if waived; $750 on 60’ Admiral if damage waiver is purchased, $1500 if waived This amount is refundable at the end of your trip


  • More than 45 days notice: forfeit $150 on the 50’ Captain, forfeit $250 on the 60’ Admiral
  • Less than 45 days notice: forfeit full rental

Basics such as cookware and serve-ware (pots, plans, plates, glasses, utensils, etc.) come equipped on the houseboat. You are responsible for bringing all of your food, beverages, and spices down to salt and pepper.

Fuel is not included in the houseboat rental. Like a rental car, you'll pick up the houseboat full and you'll be responsible for the final refueling at the end of your trip to pay for what you've used.

Typically, we recommend that you budget about $100 per day for fuel. Of course, it may be more or less based on how much you drive the houseboat each day and how much you run the generator.

Linens are included on all houseboat rentals. This includes:

  • a fitted sheet
  • top sheet
  • blanket
  • pillow and case
  • bath towels, kitchen towels and wash cloths

You may check in to load the houseboat at 7pm, where you sleep on the houseboat your first night in the marina and go out on the water the next morning.

The houseboat must be returned and unloaded at the marina by 2pm on your final day.

Starved Rock Marina operates on a set schedule:

  • 3 day (2 night) weekend: Friday-Sunday with preboard Thursday
  • 4 day (3 night) midweek: Monday-Thursday with preboard Sunday
  • 4 day (3 night) weekend: Friday-Monday with preboard Thursday
  • 7 day (6 night) week: Friday-Thursday with preboard Thursday, or Monday-Sunday with preboard Sunday

If you arrive at the marina after hours, the marina staff will leave your name and houseboat number on the office door with information about where it’s docked.

You can load the houseboat and sleep on it that night in the marina, then go through the check in and orientation process the next morning before you go out on the water.

No, the houseboats must be picked up and returned at Starved Rock Adventures Marina.

Yes, a small watercraft is required with all houseboat rentals as a safety precaution. See our rental options: Watercraft Rentals

Note: Jet Ski rentals do not count toward this requirement

The Illinois River Valley is located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago, and only about 60 miles away from Bloomington or Peoria, IL. See our Map & Directions page to view a map and directions to the Illinois River Valley area.

Starved Rock Adventures
1132 N 27th Rd, Ottawa IL 61350
*The above address is for driving directions only. Do not mail payments to this address

The nearest grocery stores will be in the town of Utica, IL, about 10 minutes away from the marina.

The marina has a marina store stocked with limited convenience items and ice.

Full navigation on approximately 80 miles of the Illinois River from Desden Lock (east of Morris, IL) to Henry, IL.

You’ll spend your nights at the Starved Rock marina’s island, return to Starved Rock marina, or spend the night at another marina along the river. Be advised that some marinas require reservations and charge overnight fees.

Yes! There is fishing on the Illinois River Valley!

There are a variety of fish found in these waters including: Catfish, Bullhead, White Bass, Sauger, Walleye, Crappie and Carp.

An Illinois state fishing license is required and will allow you to fish anywhere on the Illinois River Valley. Be sure to purchase a license online ahead of time.

Seasickness is very uncommon as houseboats are wider and more stable than smaller boats. However, if you get sick easily we recommend that you take necessary precautions.