Camping, history, rugged and diverse landscapes - Illinois state parks has it all! Perhaps one of the best interior state park systems in the country, Illinois offers plenty to nature lovers with the different types of terrain and geographical areas. The natural features of the Illinois state parks are highlighted and framed beautifully by the distinct seasons. The grasslands, waterways, rugged ravines, wooded areas and flora and fauna of the state present a unique perspective during your visits.
Over 400,000 acres of land encompass the Illinois state parks system and the state government manages over 260 recreational sites and parks, some offering camping facilities while others do not. Split into five regions, each one offers plenty of state park fun.
Popular Winter State Park Destinations
The best Illinois state parks' destinations for winter time all lie within the Northwest region of the state. Rock Cut State Park offers rolling plains with two lakes perfect for water sports in warmer weather. However, during the winter season, this park comes alive with ice fishermen vying for the catch of the day and skiers and snowmobilers taking advantage of the nature trails that the park has to offer. The wildlife are abundant here, particularly in the winter, so you just might want to strap on snowshoes instead and scope out the landscape for deer, waterfowl, woodchucks, fox, squirrels, beavers, raccoons, and more. Mississippi Palisades State Park also offers similar winter recreational activities and views.
Exceptional Spring State Park Destinations
Spring time in Illinois state parks is a time for renewal with the green budding leaves and grass and warmer, more comfortable weather just ripe for exploring the great outdoors. One of the most popular spring time destinations is Giant City State Park, located in the southern region of the state and nestled amidst the wooded splendor of Shawnee National Forest. Twelve thousand years of geological changes have presented you and many others with the opportunity to enjoy the sandstone rock formations and a lush landscape just waiting to be explored.
Giant City is perhaps one of the most visited parks in the Illinois state parks system with close to 1.3 million people visiting annually. This park is paradise to nature lovers with opportunities to go hiking, rappelling, camping, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding, hunting, and even interpretive nature programs offered by the park system.
Cool Off with Some Great Summer Parks Locations
Illinois Beach State Park encompasses almost 40,000 square feet of sandy beach shoreline and is located on Lake Michigan. Plenty of beach front property is available to go sunbathing, and swimming opportunities abound. Fishing is popular and, just a few miles away, you could put in a boat at the marina and go cruising along the lakefront. Hiking the miles of nature trails there is tempting, not only because of the abundance of flora and fauna, but also because you can cool off afterwards with a leisurely swim.
The Fall Favorite in the State Park System
The southern region of the state offers one of the most picturesque Illinois state parks of the fall season - Fern Clyffe. Hundreds of species of plants and trees provide the rich colors of green that transform into the reds, browns, purples, and golds of autumn. A long bluff offers spectacular views of the changing foliage, and the sporadic appearance of a waterfall along Big Rocky Hollow trail is a treat to see. The accompanying 50+ acre nature preserve in Fern Clyffe State Park is quite a delight if you enjoy hiking nature trails and viewing unusual plants.
Choose your favorite time of the year and you can bet there will be an Illinois state parks location that will best highlight the spirit of that season. Make a break for the great outdoors and enjoy all that Illinois has to offer.