The Best National Parks in Illinois: Destinations and History

The Best National Parks in Illinois: Destinations and History

Taking a holiday is a great way to relax and reconnect with your inner self to find peace. It can also be a great way to bond with your family and loved ones. Also possessing positive biological effects, camping or going away from polluted parks helps one’s lungs and overall respiratory system. Furthermore, it also boosts your dopamine hormones, which is beneficial for your psychological health—as such, going on adventures like RVing shall provide you with numerous advantages.

Illinois’ four regions, Northern, Western, Central, and Southern regional divisions, offer historical parks, pristine water forms, and elegant landforms to its campers and visitors. Apart from the Windy City’s ultramodern architectural structures, other portions of Illinois provide avenues to further your knowledge about the US state’s rich history and its first people. It also showcases the turning points or vital crossroads of the American historical narrative. Apart from important historic national parks, the vastness of Illinois allows you to reconnect with their environment through its natural wonders. We will guide you in choosing your camping or holiday destination by providing the facts and figures about various national parks in Illinois.

(Photo lifted from the National Park Foundation )

National Historic Sites, National Monument, and National Parks in Illinois: Sites, Rivers, Forests, and Trails

( Photo lifted from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

From the thought-provoking historical parks to the picturesque views of wonders of nature, national parks across Illinois guarantee its visitors to have a good time while they are in the magnificent state. As such, it is high time to give the green light to your RV holiday plans in Illinois. 

VISITING THE LINCOLN HOME NATIONAL HS, ILLINOIS

(Photo lifted from Wide World of Travel, Shutterstock, Eurobanks )

When taking a holiday or RVing across Illinois, you cannot miss dropping by at the historic and only home ever owned by Abraham Lincoln. It was Lincoln’s home for 17 years before becoming the 16th president of the United States of America. The site is at 426 S. 7th St. Springfield.

Bought by the late President Lincoln and his wife in 1844, the two-story house has 12 rooms. All of Lincoln’s children were born in the place. The house speaks volumes about the late president’s personality as a husband, father, neighbor, and statesman. Today, the house is back to its 1860 original architectural style.

In 1887, Robert Todd Lincoln, the late president’s son, donated the family home to Illinois’s Government. Along with the late president’s final resting place, the site has been part of the National Historic Landmarks since 1960. In 1966, the area was on the National Register of Historic Places. As of the moment, the place is under the management of the National Park Services.

The Lincoln Home Visitors Center distributes free tickets for house tours. The National Park Service Rangers conducts tours to the visitors. The Eastern Book Store offers a great selection of books and a wide variety of other souvenirs. Throughout the four-block neighborhood, many other historical exhibits are explorable without guides.The Lincoln Home operates year-round. Visitors must secure tickets for the free ranger-led tour. Tickets are free of charge, and it is on a first-come, first-serve basis. In winter, the Lincoln Home runs from 9 AM to 4:30 in the afternoon. On the other hand, during summer, the operation runs from 9 in the morning to 5:30 PM. The site has a parking lot located half-block south of the visitor center. Parking in the parking lot costs $2 per hour. On-street parking is also an option for visitors. You may access https://www.nps.gov/liho/planyourvisit/hours.htm to gather further information or contact the visitor information phone: 217-492-4241.

NAME

Lincoln Home National HS

ADDRESS

426 S. 7th St. Springfield, Illinois

OPENING TIME

9 AM

CLOSING TIME

4: 30 PM (Winter)

5:30 PM (Summer)

OPERATING TIMES

Year-round

RATE

Admissions Ticket – Free

Parking – $2/hour

RESERVATIONS

First-come, first-served

HOTLINE

217-492-4241

HEADING TO PULLMAN NATIONAL MONUMENT, ILLINOIS

(Photo lifted from National Park Service)

When RVing in the Windy City, drop by the historical Pullman National Monument. The national park symbolizes the story of many American hopefuls across generations; it depicts the ‘out of many, one’ account of the great United States. The monument is at 11141 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago.

The site speaks volumes about American labor history. George Pullman built the site as a factory of sleeping cars. Furthermore, it is one of the first planned industrial communities in the US. In 1894, the area was the avenue of the infamous Pullman Strike and Boycott, a turning point for US Labor laws. The American Railway Union spearheaded the strike against the giant Pullman Company. The Pullman Monument was named a Chicago Landmark district in 1972. In 1969, it was already part of the National Register of Historic Places. 

Apart from the historical monument, the district includes the Greenstone Church, Arcade Park, Pullman Palace Car Works factory, Hotel Florence, and the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. The Hotel Florence is named after George Pullman’s eldest child. Meanwhile, the Museum is named after A. Philip Randolph, a leader who explored African-American labor history and struggles—as such, strolling in the district would require enormous energy to explore and experience history firsthand fully. There are numerous restaurants within the district’s vicinity; furthermore, there may also be campgrounds near the area.

The park operates in summer, spring, and fall seasons; however, it is closed during winter. There is no fee for visiting the district; tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis. Before heading to the site, you shall go to the Shared Visitor Information Center. The landmark is usually open from 11 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. For further information, you may access https://www.nps.gov/pull/planyourvisit/hours.htm or telephone 773-468-9310. 

NAME

Pullman National Monument

ADDRESS

11141 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, Illinois

OPENING TIME

11 AM

CLOSING TIME

3 PM

OPERATING TIMES

Year-round, except winter

RATE

Admissions Ticket – Free

RESERVATIONS

First-come, first-served

HOTLINE

773-468-9310

GETTING TO CAHOKIA MOUNDS STATE HISTORIC SITE, ILLINOIS

(Photo lifted from Chickasaw TV)

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is an ideal holiday destination for both families and single backpackers. The place is also an excellent landmark for history buffs who are fond of studying American civilizations. The site is rich in the human history of cultures that flourished in Mississippi. The site is in Collinsville, Illinois.  

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the largest pre-Columbian settlement that is considered a prime example of an area that depicts the Mississippian culture’s social, economic, cultural, religious, and political aspects. Between 1050 and 1150, the agricultural society had a population of 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. Cahokia’s enormous pre-urban settlement depicts massive economic and political structures that organized trade, agriculture, labor, and other day-to-day human endeavors.

The Cahokia Mounds is renowned as one of the 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the USA; it is also part of the National Historic Landmarks. In the 2018 celebration of the State of Illinois Bicentennial, the American Institute of Architects chose the site as one of the Illinois 200 Great Places. The Cahokia Mounds was also picked as one of Illinois’s 25 Must-See Places by the USA Today Travel magazine. 

There are a lot of things to explore on the site. As such, it shall require your energy to do some exploring. Cahokia Mounds has an Interpretive Center with an orientation show theater, museum exhibit galleries, a courtyard for educational programs about the settlements of Native Americans, and a public programming auditorium. The site also has public restrooms and food service. You may commence by exploring the 100 ft high Monks Mound. There are also RV campgrounds within the vicinity of the site, such as the St. Louis RV Park, Cahokia RV Parque, Casino Queen RV Park, Safari RV Park, MGM Lakeside Camping, KOA of Greater St. Louis, Trails End Campgrounds, Red Barn Rendezvous RV Park, and the Horseshoe Lake RV Park. Most of these campgrounds offer electric hookups, laundry areas, cabins, water, swimming pool, sewer, and public shower rooms.  

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site operates year-round from dusk to dawn. However, the Interpretive Center opens every Wednesday to Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM, and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Entrance is free of charge, although a donation of $15 for families, $5 for seniors, $7 for adults, and $2 for children is highly encouraged and appreciated. You may access https://cahokiamounds.org/visit/#tab-id-2 for further information or call 618-346-5161 for further details. 

NAME

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

ADDRESS

Collinsville, Illinois

OPERATING TIMES

Year-round, from dusk to dawn

RATE

Admissions Ticket – Free

DONATIONS

Families -$15

Adults – $7

Seniors – $5

Children – $2

RESERVATIONS

First-come, first-served

HOTLINE

618-346-5161

GOING TO SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST, ILLINOIS

(Photo lifted from Enjoy Illinois)

For nature lovers and those who seek healing through greeneries, the Shawnee National Forest is the place to go! The place unearths the innate healing potencies of Mother Nature, something that’s good for your physical and mental health. The 289,000 acres national forest is situated in Herod, lying between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers of southern Illinois.

In 1939, when US President Franklin D. Roosevelt bought the Illini and Shawnee Purchase Units, he declared them as the Shawnee National Forest. From the 1930s to the 1940s, to rebuild the soil quality and prevent erosion, the Civilian Conservation Corps opted to plant pine trees. The place was the civil protest subject by numerous environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, a Forest Management Plan was developed by the Forest Service in 2006. The Forest Management Plan highlights the practices and policies of the US Forest Service in exercising its management roles in overseeing the place. The overall goal of the Forest Management Plan is to enhance and maintain the site’s biodiversity.   

Paying a visit to the area means opening yourself to numerous fun-filled activities and picturesque parks. Visitors may opt to go biking, hiking, camping, climbing, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, picnicking, boating, swimming, tubing, waterskiing, and windsurfing. The national forest is the home of magnificent open lands, lakes, creek, rugged bluffs, rolling hills, and woods. 

For RV campers like yourself, the Lake Glendale Recreation Area is available. The campground is open year-round. Lake Glendale Recreation Area offers a boat ramp, tent camping, camping trailer, picnic tables, restroom, vehicle spaces, and potable water. Furthermore, the campground has flush toilets facilities, picnic parks, and shower rooms. RV Camping in Lake Glendale Recreation Area-Oak Point Campground would cost you from $12-44, depending on land size and electricity use. Meanwhile, the beach area’s entrance fees rely on one’s age; people aged six and up shall pay $5, kids aged 1 to 5 shall pay $3, all under the age of 1 are free. The check-in time is at 2 in the afternoon; the checkout time is 11 in the morning.  

The site operates year-round, from dusk to dawn. It works on a first-come, first-serve basis. Moreover, you may access https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/shawnee/home for further information and details. You may also contact 618-253-7114. 

NAME

Shawnee National Forest

ADDRESS

Herod, Illinois

OPERATING TIMES

Year-round (24 hours open)

RATE

Admissions Ticket – Free

RESERVATIONS

First-come, first-served

HOTLINE

618-253-7114

CHECKING OUT THE CACHE RIVER WETLANDS

(Photo lifted from the Southern Illinoisan, Les Winkeler )

The Cache River Wetlands is home to diverse flora and fauna. A place is also a place for individuals and families who seek water activities. Otherwise known as Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center, the place is at 8885 IL-37, Cypress. 

The center is named after Henry N. Barkhausen, the Director for the Illinois Department of Conservation, from 1970 to 1973. Barkhausen also served as the Secretary of the Citizens Committee to Save the Cache River for almost two decades. His legacy includes the effort of collaborating with private citizens, civil organizations, and government instrumentalities in restoring and protecting the natural character of the Cache River Wetlands. In 2004, the construction of the Wetlands Center came into completion. At the moment, the establishment is managed and owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It is also supported by several institutions such as The Nature Conservancy and the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. 

Visitors of the area will have a 12-minute orientation video about the watershed’s natural and cultural histories. The orientation video also provides a profound explanation and depiction of the site’s diverse flora and fauna. Experience can be fun for visitors since technology facilitates learning about the nature park’s unique biodiversity-as such, you can acquaint yourself with the local flora and fauna through an interactive diorama of the wetland. Two interactive touchscreens feature the Cache and migratory birds, changing landscape displays, and state champion tree information. 

The place is the site for exploring and learning about greeneries, wildlife, migratory bird watching, fishing, canoeing, biking, hunting, and hiking. The center grounds provide a 2,600-foot hiking trail with a wildlife viewing mound overlooking a wetland along the old bed of the Cypress Creek; this hiking trail is accessible for differently-abled individuals. Once there, you are bound to see animals’ habitats, tracks, and scat. The Lower Cache River Trail gives paddlers the chance to experience canoeing while enjoying the picturesque view of trees that are more than a thousand years old. Furthermore, marine biodiversity is also a highlight of the tea-colored waters of the Cache. Crappie, channel catfish, bass and bluegill, bowfin, needle nose gar, grass pickerel, yellow bullhead catfish, pygmy sunfish, and cypress minnows are in the Cache waters.  

The Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center operates from Wednesdays to Sundays, from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon. The place follows a first-come, first-served basis. You may access https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/VisitorCenter/Pages/CacheRiver.aspx for further information. You may also contact 618-657-2064 for additional details. 

NAME

Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center

ADDRESS

 8885 IL-37, Cypress, Illinois

Opening Time

9 AM

Closing Time

4 PM

OPERATING TIMES

Year-round, from Wednesdays to Sundays

RATE

Admissions Ticket – Free

RESERVATIONS

First-come, first-served

HOTLINE

618-657-2064

RV Essentials to Check Before Visiting National Parks and National Historic Sites: Information

(Photo lifted from the Pinterest, DRIVIN’ & VIBIN’)

When adventuring across Illinois’s four regions, it is necessary to ensure that your Recreational Vehicle is in good condition. As such, it is noteworthy to consider the following must-have pieces of equipment before embarking on a fun and exciting journey. 

5th Wheel Hitch – Should you travel with your 5th wheel attached to your main vehicle, inspect whether your fifth wheel hitch is properly functioning and is right for the weight of the 5th wheel. RV camping offers comprehensive remarks and comments about the considerations you have to account for before purchasing a 5th wheel hitch and other vital RV parts.

RV Generator – this functions as the primary electricity provider for your tools and appliances when power outages happen. When campgrounds provide no electrical hookups, RV Generator shall be your best friend, for RV life becomes more convenient and comfortable with it. 

RV Cover – the onslaught of global warming wreaks havoc by weather unpredictability. As such, it may damage a lot of things, including the exteriors of your vehicle. RV Cover shall protect your vehicle’s exteriors by protecting it in times of sudden weather changes. 

Conclusion

The state of Illinois is the home to many eye-capturing and worth-visiting national parks. They all provide key historical significance and magnificent sceneries. Hence, it would be unlucky for you should you decide not to push through exploring and RVing across Illinois’s national parks.

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