Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area
Guide

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Introduction

Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is home to over 16,000 acres of land with activities perfect for large and small groups. The park was once a part of the territory controlled by the Native Americans who settled there in the mid-1800s. Later on, Commonwealth Edison, a Chicago-based company, purchased the land hoping to develop more land for coal manufacturing. More than 100 years later the property became an official part of the Jim Edgar Panther Creek in 2001. The park opened its gate to the public and has been part of an initiative to protect the wildlife of Illinois.

The park remains open year-round with plenty of summertime fun for all visitors and hunters alike. Each summer you can find campers swimming or fishing near the lakes, trying out their skills on the archery range, horseback riding through the prairie. The winter offers hiking, a random snowball fight, and the opportunity to learn about the beautiful birds and wildlife that call the park home.

Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area has two campgrounds for visitors to use. Not all campsites come with full hookups, however, there are dumping stations and water spigots nearby to provide for that lack of a connection. One of the campgrounds is for campers with horses only, while the others are for campers without the addition of a horse. All 84 campsites come with a padded area and plenty of shade from the sun. The area enjoys warm summers and cold winters.

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Transportation in Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area

Driving

Jim Edgar Panther Creek Park is located just outside the township of Panther Creek. The area does not have much development due to the conservation efforts of the state. Despite the lack of growth in the immediate area, you can find a few boutiques and grocery stores on your way to the park. Many campers advise visitors to stock up on gas before entering the park.

The entrance to the park is along State Route 11 and maintained by the park's staff. Roads are wide and have very few potholes, if any, along the ride in. You will find that there are parking lots near all major campgrounds and docking stations. While you are allowed to drive to your site, the staff recommends that you either ride or walk to explore the park better.

Due to the location of the park's entrance, roads may close in the event of inclement weather. Be sure the check the weather before you depart on your trip and take a few moments to call the park if you anticipate arriving later than you initially intended to. They will be able to give you details on possible accommodations and where to sign in.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area

Campsites in Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area

Reservations camping

Questing Hills Campground

A 22-space parking lot is right next to the 51-site campground. This campground is for horse owners and their mares. The Questing Hill Campground is an electric only campground so you will have to utilize the dumping station and water spigot nearby. Despite the lack of a sewer and water connection, you will be able to enjoy the large lots with plenty of space and shade. Hitching posts are provided to anchor your horse while you explore the park on foot or by bike. Be sure to properly register and provide water and feed for your horse on your visit. Amenities include a fire pit, washrooms, picnic tables, and the sound of nature every morning and night. The gathering and purchasing of outside firewood are prohibited, but you are allowed to purchase wood from the park's staff. A maximum of 14-day stay in 30 days is allowed and may make reservations up to 180 days in advance.

Prairie Lake Campground

There are 84 sites available for RV and trailer camping. 19 of the sites come with full hookups. The remainder have either water and electrical or only electrical connections. There is a dumping station and water spigots nearby to make up for the lack of a connection. A few of the sites offer ADA accommodations and easy access to the docking areas. Sites are partial to full shade and provide a bit of privacy from your neighbor. All generators must follow park hours and permission from the park before you can use one. Amenities include fire grills, hot showers, picnic tables, and restrooms. Only firewood sold in the park may burn in the park as you are prohibited from gathering wood from fallen trees without the park's approval. You may stay 14 days at a time in 30 days from May to September after which you may be able to stay longer than the 14-day limit. Reservations are available up to 180 days in advance.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area

In-Season

Biking

24 miles of mountain biking awaits you, ranging from easy to severe. Be sure to take water with you on the trails and wear a fitted helmet to protect yourself against accidents. Remember to bring a map with you at all times and a cellphone in case of an emergency. Treat the trails with care and pick up any trash that you may see along the way. Keep in mind that trails will be closed to all mountain bikers from November to April.

Horseback Riding

More than 20 miles of trails have been set aside for horseback riding in the park. You can take a whiff of nature from up high and take a few stories of your adventure back home with you. Having a helmet on is required while riding a horse and you should always be aware of your surroundings. Horses must be kept in either their stables or in the sight of their owner at all times.

Fishing

The park draws thousands of sport fishers from all over the country each summer for a bit of competition. Gridley, Drake, and Prairie Lakes all are prime locations for shoreline and on-the-water fishing. You can find parking lots, picnic areas, docking stations, grills, and boat rentals near each lake. If you forget to bring a rod in your RV, you can rent or buy one in town or borrow one from a friendly camper. The lakes are stocked yearly with bass, catfish, sunfish, and many more.

Off-Season

Geocaching

If you want to explore more of the park try using a GPS-enabled device and go geocaching with your family and friends. You will need a fresh pair of eyes, snowshoes (in case it snows), a pencil/pen, an understanding of the rules, the nose of a hound, the spirit of a pirate, and your own set of treasure to trade once you have found a cache. Be sure to leave a cache area as neat and organized as you found it to keep the adventure going.

Hiking

The trails are open year-round to hikers. You can pack your favorite pair of hiking boots and a coat in the winter months. Pick up a map of the trails online or get one from the main office. Remember to stay hydrated on the trails and if you are looking for a challenge there try the Drake Loop and its five miles of moderate to challenging paths. The Prairie Loop offers 17 miles of trails and plenty of chances to go off the trails and take a closer look at nature.

Archery and Shooting

The park has several shooting ranges for both guns and bows. You can rent a bow from the main office or bring your own. If you require an instructor for your first lesson, then be sure to ask around the park for help. Visitors are required to collect their bows after shooting and to leave the range as lovely, if not better than they found it. You may need to acquire a map before you decide to search for the archery range due to the vastness of the park.

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