For nature lovers, Southeastern Illinois offers an abundance of wildlife and scenic beauty with few better places to enjoy it than in one of the state recreation areas.
Plan to explore the wonderful natural areas of Southeastern Illinois!
Beall Woods State Park
9285 Beall Woods Ave., Mount Carmel
Hours: Open daily from sunrise to 10:00 pm. It is closed on Christmas and New Years Day as well as the third week of November and the first weekend in Decemb
16 Class C Camping Sites, Restrooms, Phone
Enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking and hunting at Beall Woods (pronounced Bell). While a working farm owned by the Beall family since the 1880s, almost half of the 635 acres consisted of forest that had never been cleared. Located on the banks of the Wabash River 6 miles south of Mt. Carmel in Wabash County, Beall Woods today is a 329-acre old-growth forest and one of few remaining virgin forests on the east side of the Mississippi River. It was dedicated in 1966 as an Illinois Nature Preserve and is also registered as a National Landmark. Don't miss the new interactive Visitor's Center with exhibits and educational displays explaining the natural history of the area.
There are more than 300 trees in the preserve that measure more than 120 feet tall with diameters close to three feet.
The park offers five hiking trails that provide an excellent view of the forest.
There is also a 15-acre lake that is stocked with bass, blue gill, catfish, and trout for anglers.
Other park activities include hunting in season, camping and picnicking.
Newton Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
3490 E. 500th Ave., Newton
Boating, Hiking, 5-mile Mountain Biking trail, Cross Country Skiing, Horseback Riding, Trails, Fishing, Hunting
This 2,350-acre fish and wildlife area is home to a variety of wildlife, including the state-protected prairie chicken and river otter. The 1,775-acre lake, known for its healthy population of bass, and its shoreline are perfect for bank and boat fishing, picnicking and hiking. Besides fishing, visitors can boat or swim at the lake. There are more than 22 miles of trails that run along the lake for hiking or equestrian use as well as cross country skiing in the winter months. A five-mile mountain biking trail exists and has received many positive reviews. Hunting, wildlife observation, and picnicking are also popular activities with park visitors.
Newton Lake is a power plant lake fishable year round. Producing both numbers and large bass, the combination has made Newton Lake one of the premier bass fishing destinations in America and our guides know it better than anyone! Because it's a power plant lake, the bass get big in a hurry . An 18 inch size limit ensures plenty of lunkers. The average size bass in this lake is 3 to 5lbs, with occasional 6 to 8lbs being pretty common.
Prairie Ridge State Natural Area
5295 N. 1000th St., Newton
The Illinois Audubon Society's environmental educational area, known as the Robert Ridgway Grassland Nature Preserve, is open daily for wildlife viewing and hiking. This area has been restored to prairie and has a self guided interpretive trail and a wildlife viewing platform over looking a wetland surrounded by native prairie plants.
Located southwest of Newton, this 3,300-acre site is unique in Illinois, dedicated to conserving the rarest members of Illinois's native tall grass prairie and marsh communities. It offers one of the most spectacular viewing opportunities for grassland wildlife in Illinois. The park is home to the largest breeding population of northern harriers and short-eared owls, as well as prairie chickens.
Red Hills State Park
1100 N. & 400 E., RR 2, Box 252A, Sumner
104 Sites, Electric, Water, Restrooms, Showers, Phone, Dump Station
In southeastern Illinois midway between Olney and Lawrenceville on U.S. 50, Red Hills is a carefully preserved and maintained 948-acres of high wooded hills, deep ravines, captivating meadows and year-round springs. It's the perfect setting for natural relaxation and outdoor activities. The sparkling 40-acre lake is ideal for fishing and boating. This 950-acre state park offers hiking and biking trails, camping, fishing, horseback riding, hunting and boating.
The park is an important historical crossroad, representing the western most edge of the first land in Illinois ceded by Native Americans to the United States.
Red Hills features many outdoor activities. Fishing and boating, hunting, hiking and horse trails as well as camping are available for all. A recent addition to the park is a log cabin available for visitors to rent on a nightly basis.
In addition, the park is the home to the Trace Inn Restaurant, with lunch and dinner and daily specials, Tuesday - Sunday.
Robeson Hills Nature Preserve
The topography is rugged and challenging. Trails have been established and an interpretive pamphlet is available.
From jct. Hwys. 1 and 50 in Lawrenceville, take Hwy. 50 east 8 mi. to the Business Route 50 interchange, then turn and go south and southeast 2.1 mi., then turn and go northeast 1.6 mi. on Hwy. 33. The nature preserve is west of the road. Part is on the north side of Hwy. 50 and is accessible from the rest stop on the westbound lane of Hwy. 50
Robeson Hills is a 120-acre remnant of mesic upland forest of the Southern Upland Section of the Wabash Border Natural Division. The preserve is part of a 545 acre outdoor laboratory and environmental education site managed by Vincennes University. The area is located on Robeson Hills, a prominent topographic feature of the Wabash River bottomlands. The rugged terrain is characterized by narrow flat-topped ridges, steep slopes, and deep ravines. These features not only provide diverse habitats, but help to protect them as well. The most significant feature of the preserve is a beech-maple forest on dissected, deep loess deposits overlooking the Wabash River. Other important canopy species include ash, tulip tree, oaks, basswood, and hickories. Woodland wildflowers are abundant. Robeson Hills also has significant archeological and historical features; shell middens of an Archaic Indian culture occur on the river bluffs.
Sam Dale Lake State Conservation Area
R.R. 1, Johnsonville
Boating, Camping, Hiking, Hunting, Picnicking, Swimming, and Wildlife Observation.
This wildlife area was established in 1959 with 40 acres and has grown to cover more than 1,300 acres and includes a 194-acre lake plus several ponds. The lake is surrounded by eight miles of hiking trails. There are several floating docks on the lake for fishing and boat rentals are available at the concession stand. Bass, bluegill, catfish, and crappie are the lake's most popular fish. Ice fishing is available during the winter months.
Sam Parr State Fish & Wildlife Area
13225 E. Illinois Hwy. 33, Newton
Boating, Camping (30 sites, Electric, Restrooms, Phone, Dump Station), Fishing, Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Picnicking
Surrounded by timberland, this 1,800-acre park is popular with hunters and fishermen. It has a 183-acre lake, 840 huntable acres, picnic areas, a 13-mile equestrian trail, a hiking trail, trailer camping and tent sites. Visitors will enjoy driving or walking through the park at dusk to view the many deer and other wildlife.