Ferne Clyffe State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Ferne Clyffe State Park, so named due to its abundance of ferns, has been the destination for beautiful scenic views and natural features for more than a century. The park, located in Goreville, Illinois, features impressive rock formations, rare plant communities, and a serene atmosphere, the perfect combination to suit your RV camping desires. With its eighteen straight and winding trails through attractive woods and incredible vistas, 100-foot tall intermittent waterfall, 150-foot long shelter bluff, great camping facilities, and picnic spots, Ferne Clyffe is the place to relax and enjoy nature in its purest form.

Ferne Clyffe State Park covers 2,430 acres of the resplendent Shawnee Hills. Activities in the park which include hiking, hunting and fishing, picnicking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and sightseeing, bring over 250,000 campers and visitors to the park annually. For decades, Ferne Clyffe State Park has been the preferred destination for picnicking thanks to its great picnic spots and facilities including cooking grills, picnic tables, playground equipment.

The park features a 16-acre lake up to 22 feet deep with a one-mile hiking trail on the shoreline. Bank fishing activities are allowed at the lake, but swimming and boating are prohibited. Beautiful views of the lake are seen from Lakeview Picnic Shelter and Blackjack Oak Trail.

Some naturally-occurring hazardous areas exist in the park, hence campers are warned to remain on designated trails, and exercise extreme caution when leaving the safety of designated trails.

RV Rentals in Ferne Clyffe State Park

Transportation in Ferne Clyffe State Park

Driving

Ferne Clyffe State Park is located on Illinois Route 37 in Johnson County, one mile south of Goreville. The park is easily accessible using RVs, trailers, or any other vehicle. Local paved roads within the park can take you anywhere you want. Motorized vehicles, RVs/trailers, and bicycles are not permitted on trails in the park.

Parking

There are numerous parking options for RVs, trailers and vehicles in Ferne Clyffe State Park which has 13 parking lots throughout the park. The parking lots are well distributed around the campgrounds and campsites, so that you can have you rig nearby wherever you camp. Special parking lots, such as Equestrian parking lots, are also available.

Public Transport

Ferne Clyffe became a popular attraction in the early 1900’s and local entrepreneurs soon began to provide transportation from the Goreville train depot to the park.

Campgrounds and parking in Ferne Clyffe State Park

Campsites in Ferne Clyffe State Park

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Deer Ridge Campground

Deer Ridge campground in Ferne Clyffe State Park has four campsites with Class A facilities equipped with electric hookups and water hookups for your RV. Maximum RV/trailer length is 70 feet. Other amenities at the campground are gravel pads, picnic tables, cooking grill, showers, flush toilets, and a sanitary dump station. Advance reservation is not necessary to use the Deer Ridge campground, however the maximum length of camping stay from May 1 through September 30 is 14 nights in any 30-day period.

Alternate camping

Backpack Campground

You can pack your backpack from your RV and head to the backpack campground to enjoy your commune with nature while appreciating the solitude of the individual campsites. The campsites are in the woodlands and have cooking grills, toilets and showers. Fireplaces are available to light fires.

Youth Group Campground

If you are on your RV vacation as part of a group, then you may wish to check out the Youth Group campground which is a Class D facility designed for group activities. RV hookup facilities are not available. The campground is equipped with drinking water, cooking grill, picnic tables, and a parking lot for your RV, trailer or vehicles. Advance reservation is not necessary to access the campground.

Turkey Ridge Campground

Turkey Ridge Campground in Ferne Clyffe State Park is a Class C walk-in campground made up of campsites for RV campers who want a serene outdoor experience. RV hookups are not available. Facilities at Turkey Ridge include camp pad, picnic tables, cooking grills, and showers. The Turkey Ridge campground has a parking lot and is accessible by road from all parts of the park. Drinking water and toilet facilities are available.

Seasonal activities in Ferne Clyffe State Park

In-Season

Rock Climbing

Don’t get carried away by the lush 2,430-acre vegetation in Ferne Clyffe State Park and miss the vast rock formations that exist directly below the soil. These beautiful outcrops of rocks in the park present awesome rock-climbing opportunities for you on your RV vacation. The Big Rock Hollow and the Cedar Bluff areas are two main areas where you can enjoy rock climbing. You can do traditional or sport climbing in Cedar Bluff, but expect the exercise on the short routes to be difficult. If you are a new climber, not to worry; there are top-rope access and solid anchors to make your exercise fun.

Fishing and Hunting

Bring your love of fishing or hunting to bear at Ferne Clyffe State Park at the Lake and the 1,750-acre forest habitat in the park. Fish species in the lake include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, and channel catfish. The forest in the park has good populations of squirrel and deer for hunting, with rabbits and quail also present in considerable amounts. To encourage the presence of upland game species for hunting, food patches are usually planted in open areas in the park.

Hiking

Ferne Clyffe State Park features eighteen diverse trails, varying in difficulty from easy to strenuous, and leading to caves, waterfalls, lake, a Nature Preserve Cedar Bluff, and climbing/rappelling areas, giving you the opportunity to assess Ferne Clyffe in all its beauty on your RV vacation. Moreover, some of the trails are equestrian designated trails, giving room to RV campers that come on the trip with their horses. Each trail in the park has an assigned name and number which provides a navigation guide for easy map reading for campers. Furthermore, some of the hiking trails are wheelchair accessible.

Off-Season

Round Bluff Nature Reserve

The 53-acre Round Bluff Nature Preserve in Ferne Clyffe State Park is a glorious mix of unusual plant species and great geological formations. The Nature Preserve is most colorful during spring and fall, but remains beautiful all year round, with spectacular blends of reds, purples, golds, and browns covering every hillside. Hiking on marked trails in the Nature Preserve is a pleasurable experience with the beautiful scenery.

Flora and Fauna Watching

Ferne Clyffe State Park is home to spectacular plant and animal life. With over 700 species of plants, such as flowering dogwood, redbud, spicebush, sweetgum, the woodland flowers in Ferne Clyffe State Park form magnificent backdrops for recreational activities during spring and fall seasons. RV camping in late April, early May and October is the most fitting to view the beautiful flora foliage. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, doves, bluebirds, quail, and wild turkey are some of the wildlife interspersed along the trails in the park.

Horseback Riding

If you are passionate about horseback riding, you will definitely love to hit the horseback trail at Ferne Clyffe State Park. What’s more, there’s a dedicated Class C Equestrian campground for you to park your rig while you enjoy your ride. The campsite is equipped with picnic tables, drinking water, cooking grills, toilets, parking and showers. Note that horse rental is not available at the park, so come along with your horse in your RV. Besides, equestrian trails are closed to horses from 1st November to 30th April, and the equestrian campsites are on reservation basis.

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