The Best National Parks in Illinois: Destinations and History

Photo lifted from the National Park Foundation

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 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.

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 their visitors a good time while 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 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 complimentary tickets for house tours. The National Park Service Rangers conducts tours for 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 on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Lincoln Home runs from 9 AM to 4:30 in the afternoon in winter. On the other hand, during summer, the operation runs from 9 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 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
Map Link:

Heading to Pullman National Monument, Illinois

Photo lifted from National Park Service

Drop by the historical Pullman National Monument when RVing in the Windy City. 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 first-come, first-served. 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 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
Map Link:

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 families and single backpackers. The place is also an excellent landmark for history buffs 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 services. 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. 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 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:Entrance Fee – Free
Donations:Families – $15
Adults – $7
Seniors – $5
Children – $2
Reservations:First-come, first-served
Map Link:

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 southern Illinois’s Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

In 1939, when US President Franklin D. Roosevelt bought the Illini and Shawnee Purchase Units, he declared them the Shawnee National Forest. From the 1930s to the 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps opted to plant pine trees to rebuild the soil quality and prevent erosion. The place was a civil protest subject by numerous environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, the Forest Service developed a Forest Management Plan 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, creeks, 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 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
Map Link:

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 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 Illinois Department of Conservation Director, 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. Currently, 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 more than a thousand years old trees. 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 for further information. You may also contact 618-657-2064 for additional details. 

NameBarkhausen-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
Map Link:

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 primary vehicle, inspect whether your fifth wheel hitch is properly functioning and is suitable 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.


Illinois is the home to many eye-capturing and worth-visiting national parks. They all provide essential 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.

Leave a Comment