Located along nearly ten miles of scenic Illinois River backwaters, bottomlands and bluffs, Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area is a peaceful place for an RV getaway. The area is huge, with the park being made up of three units that have around 3,000 acres on land and 3,000 acres on water combine to form the park. The land was originally purchased for conversation in 1925 and is now a popular place for visitors to participate in recreational activities and to relax.
The largest of the three units is known as the Marshall Unit, which is made up of around 3,000 acres. This unit can be found east of the Illinois River and adjacent to Route 26. The headquarters to the park is also found here, along with a small RV friendly campground, boat ramp, fishing channel, hunter check station and numerous hiking trails.
The Spring Beach Unit contains 1,642 acres (537 acres of water) and is located on the west side of the Illinois River between Sparland and Chillicothe. The unit spans Marshall and Peoria counties. There is a six-acre picnic area, fishing opportunities and access to hunting and hiking trails adjacent to Route 29.
The smallest of the units is the Sparland Unit. It consists of 1,280 acres, of which 1,110 acres are water. The Sparland Unit is located between Route 29 and the Illinois River. It is mostly used as a waterfowl hunting area, although at times fishing is also quite popular.
The campground at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area is very small but still has seven RV friendly sites that have a 30 amp electrical connection and are pet friendly. Reservations are available until the end of the peak season each year. Peak season runs from the beginning of May until the end of September.
Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area is located in northern Illinois and is spread over multiple counties, including Marshall and Peoria. Since the park is so large there are multiple ways to access it but the most popular was is via IL-26 which runs on the eastern side of the park entrance.
The closest town to the park is Lacon and it can be found around five and half miles to the north of the park. Other towns nearby include Sparland, Hopewell and Chillicothe. The closest city to Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area is Peoria.
The roads in and around the park are very well maintained and very flat. You shouldn't have any issue with access or any obstacles such as overhanging trees or tight and winding roads. During the winter time, however, it will be more difficult to reach the park as the area is known for having large snowfalls and sometimes severe snowstorms. Make sure you call the park ahead of time if you plan to visit in winter to make sure that it will be open and accessible.
There is plenty of parking available in the Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area.
Unfortunately there are no public transport options that will take you to Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area.
There is one campground available at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area along with canoe camping when waterfowl hunting is not in season. The RV friendly campground has sites to choose from. All of the sites have a 30 amp electrical connection and are pet friendly. The location of the campground is great and the sites are right on the river with plenty of room in between each one. The campground also gives you access to the main hiking trail in Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area.
There are two water collection points available within the campgrounds, along with a toilet block, dump station, picnic area, grills and fire rings. We recommend either site number four or number 10 as they have only have one site neighbor. Reservations for the campground are available and the maximum length of stay in the campground is 30 nights in any 30 day period.
Love to fish? During your stay at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area you can go fishing on the Illinois River and its backwaters. One of the most popular areas to fish within the park is in the man made half-mile long channel that is located near the campground. This is a great spot due to the easy access for those who don't have a boat. Popular species caught in the area include crappie, bullhead, bluegill and channel catfish.
Picnicking is a great way to relax in the great outdoors when you are staying at state parks. There are two main picnic areas that are available for you to use. There is a day-use area with tables, shelters and stoves that is located in the Spring Beach Unit, two miles south of Sparland on Route 29. There is no drinking water at this picnic area so make sure you bring your own supply. Another smaller picnic area can be found along Route 26 near the campground.
Within the Marshall area of the park you can find a marked trail that you can enjoy throughout the course of the year. The trail is three and a half miles in length and while it can be used for hiking it can also be used for cross-country skiing and for hunting access. If you want more information on the hiking trail you can ask the park ranger for a brochure once you arrive at the park.
Hunting is a very popular activity for visitors to Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area. There are upland and forest game hunting opportunities throughout the park in designated wildlife management areas. Shotgun and bow and arrow hunting are permitted, however you should be aware that there is no hunting in recreation areas. If you want to participate in Waterfowl hunting you can if you have a permit but it is restricted to designated blind sites.
The area in and around the park is great for birding and consists of Illinois River backwaters, bottomland forest and oak hickory bluffs. This diversity gives a great opportunity for seeing a wide variety of bird species, including bald eagles, gulls and diving ducks in open water in the winter. During the spring time migratory waterfowl will be in abundance. Since this is a popular hunting area make sure you take care, especially in the fall. Some areas in the park will be closed to non-hunting use so check with the park ranger to see where the best birding spots will be.
Once the snow starts to fall in the Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area a lot of the common summer recreational activities can also be enjoyed during the winter time. Ice fishing is very popular but make sure that you check the ice thickness level as it is not regularly monitored. Along with ice fishing the hiking trail can be used for cross-country skiing and will take skiers on a great trip through wooded bluffs.