Fort Massac State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Overlooking the lovely Ohio River and located in a majestic area of southern Illinois, Fort Massac State Park is perfect destination for RV history buffs. The site is full of rich history and became the first ever Illinois state park way back in in 1908. Before it was a state park, Fort Massac was built by French soldiers in 1757 during the French and Indian War. Originally called "Fort de L’Ascension", the fort was destroyed by Native American Chickasaw people sometime after 1763 but was rebuilt in 1794 during the Northwest Indian War. Fort Massac was damaged in the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes and was again repaired, but in 1814 it was decommissioned.

In the 1970s, a partial reconstruction of the fort was built, but it was torn down in 2002 and a smaller but more detailed version fort paying homage to the beginnings of the fort was reconstructed. During October Fort Massac State Park is host of the the popular Fort Massac Encampment festival that interprets life in the 18th century. Even if you aren't in the park during the festival you can still learn about this history by stopping by the visitor center that has a museum with Indian artifacts, mannequins in period clothing, and other great exhibits that explain the history of the fort.

The park is quite large with 1,500-acres available for fun recreation that includes picnics, hiking, fishing, boating, seasonal hunting programs and disc golf. RV campers can enjoy Fort Massac's 50 electric campsites that have a mixture of 30 and 50 amp connections. Camping is available all year round but is walk-in only during off peak. Peak season at Fort Massac State Park runs from March until the end of September.

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Transportation in Fort Massac State Park

Driving

Fort Massac State Park is located in Metropolis, Illinois. The park is right on the border to Kentucky with the Ohio river separating the two states. Due to it's location in Metropolis the park is very easy to access and is close by to services and amenities. The park is accessible from E 7th Street in Metropolis and an unnamed road that is located to the east. Not many people use this unnamed road but you can access it from Brigade Road. Besides Metropolis there are a few other small towns near the park, including Paducah, Mermet and Lone Oak.

The terrain around the park is very easy to navigate since the city and surrounding roads are very flat. There are trees lining the roads, but they are not close enough to where overhanging branches could cause damage to your RV. During the wintertime it is common for snow to fall in and around the area, so make sure you call ahead and check with the park office before you begin your journey if snow is around.

Parking

There is plenty of parking available at Fort Massac State Park all year round.

Public Transport

There are no public transport options that will get you to Fort Massac State Park.

Campgrounds and parking in Fort Massac State Park

Campsites in Fort Massac State Park

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Fort Massac State Park Campground

Fort Massac State Park Campground has some lovely facilities that will make you feel comfortable during your stay. The park has 50 sites available for RV camping that are level and some are shady. All 50 of the sites have electric connections that are either 50 amp or 30 amp and all of the sites are back-in only. If you are looking to camp on a site that is close to the river you can reserve any of the furtherest east campsites and they will be near the riverbank.

The campground has some great amenities, including toilets, shower blocks, water collection points, a dump station, picnic tables and fire pits. The campground is pet friendly and you should be able to get cell phone service on any network. During the winter the park will be very quiet as opposed to the summertime. Reservations are required during the peak season and during the off peak season the campground is walk-in only.

Seasonal activities in Fort Massac State Park

In-Season

Picnicking

Fort Massac State Park is a perfect place for a picnic lunch during the summertime. The park provides tables, grills and drinking water throughout the grounds for your convenience. For those who have small children there are also three playgrounds located in the park that you are able to use free of charge. Along with the unsheltered picnic areas, there are also four covered picnic shelters that are available. These shelters are non-reservable so they are first come, first serve.

Visitor Center

The Fort Massac State Park Visitor Center and historic site is open throughout the year and is a must visit if you want to learn more about the park. For those interested in the history of the fort, the historic site has the archaeological outline of the original site built at Fort Massac. Along with this, there is also a replica of an 1802 American Fort that once stood on the site. The Visitor Center has a reception area that features information on the fort and the surrounding area. There is also a history video about Fort Massac and a prehistoric artifact display that is highly recommended.

Fishing

While there is no lake situated in Fort Massac State Park, don't let that stop you from fishing. Since the park is on the banks of the Ohio River you can cast a line out and see if anything is biting. There is also a boat dock and launch ramp available for park visitors which will give you easy river access. Common species caught in the river include carp, catfish, bullhead, crappie, drum and largemouth bass.

Off-Season

Hunting

Want to do some hunting? Fort Massac State Park allows hunting during the specific season. Species that are permitted to be hunted include woodcock, squirrel, dove, rabbit and deer hunting by archery only. If you are wanting to go hunting at Fort Massac State Park make sure you contact the park office to confirm which areas you are allowed to hunt in. They will also have relevant information about site-specific hunting regulations.

Hiking

Fort Massac State Park has some excellent trails available for hikers to use throughout the year. The park contains a one-mile loop trail through grassy woods and trailhead passes through near the fort. The loop trail is designated as a Forest Watch Tree Identification Trail and if you would like a map they are available in the visitors' center. If you are looking for a medium length trail then two and a half mile Hickory Nut Ridge Trail shouldn't be missed. This trail takes hikers along the scenic Ohio River which makes for a lovely afternoon adventure.

Disc Golf

Have you ever tried to play disc golf? Disc golf is a great family friendly sport that involves throwing a disc at a target, and is played using rules similar to golf. Fort Massac State Park has an 18-hole course that twists and turns through the forests of the park and has something on offer for every level of disc golfer. Disc golf can be played year round but during the wintertime the course will not be as popular due to the colder conditions.

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