IDNR Encourages Families To Get Outside During Great Outdoors Month This June
Explore the outdoors on less than a tank of gas
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is celebrating Great Outdoors month this June by encouraging families and their children to get out and enjoy outdoor Illinois. With gas prices continuing to climb, there are many outdoor activities within close distance that don’t take a lot of money or fuel to enjoy.
“If you’ve decided to put off that vacation because the cost of gas is too high, that doesn’t mean you have to postpone a good time,” said Acting IDNR Director Sam Flood. “Go fishing, camp, hike, and see the beauty that nature has left us to explore. Virtually every corner of this state offers unique and wonderful activities that don’t require hundreds of dollars and multiple fill-ups.”
- Get a first-hand sense of the Illinois early settlers crossed by exploring Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area. Located in Grundy County and only 50 miles southwest of Chicago, 7 miles of hiking trails wind through expansive stands of prairie grasses–some reaching heights of 8 feet. Complete your experience over a picnic lunch and then try your luck fishing the nearby 2,000 acre lake at Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area.
- After setting up camp, explore the rugged, 15-mile trail system through deep, forested, ravines at Mississippi Palisades State Park. Pause to enjoy the scenic overlook high on the unglaciated cliffs above the Mississippi River, and scope out a prime fishing spot on the backwater lakes below. Located in Carroll County, the park is a short drive from the Quad Cities and Rockford.
- Grab your camera and binoculars before heading to McHenry County’s Moraine Hills State Park as the unique property abounds with wildlife and a variety of rare plants. Experience a bog, marsh and one of Illinois’ last remaining glacial lakes either on foot or bicycle. Those interested in spending some time on the water will find two concessionaires offering boat rentals, bait and tackle.
- Kickapoo State Park is one challenging park. Besides the standard park features, this and neighboring Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area offer adventure seekers nearly 5,000 acres where a day can be spent on the 12-mile single track mountain biking trail, slipping underwater for a scuba dive, floating down Illinois’ only Wild and Scenic River or saddling up for a ride on the 35-mile equestrian trail system. These sites are located in Vermilion County, just west of Danville.
- Logging in at 26-square miles and more than 16,500 acres, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is just the place to get away from it all. A range of camping sites, and nine rent-a-cabins, provide the perfect setting for an overnight visit for those wanting to experience everything the park has to offer. Located in central Illinois, this park is a short drive from Springfield, Quincy or the Peoria area.
- Nestled in Brown County in western Illinois, the wooded terrain and sparkling lake make Siloam Springs State Park a favorite locale for a family outing. The well-stocked, 58-acre lake contains an assortment of species, including rainbow trout, and fishing couldn’t be any easier with row boats, canoes and paddle boats available for rent, and six piers and bank fishing providing opportunities from the campground or picnic areas.
- Towering overhead at heights up to 120 feet, trees at Beall Woods State Natural Area represent one of the few remaining virgin tracts of forest east of the Mississippi River. The visitor’s center provides an overview of the trails, campgrounds, fishing and picnic areas this Wabash County facility offers.
- Travel back in time to the late 1700s, when Fort Massac State Park was an Ohio River outpost on the edge of the new American frontier. Step inside the new visitor’s center and learn of the French and British occupation of the fort, through its use as a training site during the Civil War. The fort comes to life several times a year through reenactments and demonstrations.
- Located north of Carlyle in Clinton County, Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area includes one of Illinois’ largest campgrounds, and is situated on the banks of the 26,000-acre Carlyle Lake. Visitors lacking camping gear should call ahead and reserve one of the 20 lakefront cottages or two rent-a-cabins. After a long day boating, sailing or fishing on the lake, cool off in the swimming pool before enjoying the evening interpretive program at the campground.
For further information on Illinois state parks, visit www.dnr.state.il.us or contact the IDNR Clearinghouse (Web site) for a copy of the latest Illinois State Park Magazine.