If nature is calling, but you're unsure of where to head on your next RV vacation, look no further. Located in southern Illinois, Pyramid State Park is the largest park in the state, with its 19,701 acres. The thickly forested hills, along with the many lakes and ponds throughout the park make this a great spot to visit, whether it be for relaxation or the many activities offered. Take your fishing poles and bait to one of the many lakes or ponds and reel in bass, crappie, or bluegill. Head off into the woods down the miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, or take your gear down to the archery range. You will find endless options for outdoor recreation during your stay, no matter the season.
Pyramid State Park has more than 500 acres of water in lakes and ponds of sizes varying from 0.1 to 276 acres, and the largest lake is Super Lake. The biggest lakes in the park have boat ramps available for use, though all of the lakes can be reached by foot. There are also over 16 miles of trails within the state park for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. Camping is available year-round at Pyramid State Park, with the peak season running from May through September. With no hookups, come prepared to go boondocking with your RV.
The name of the state park originated from a coal mine that was once on the land. In the 1930s, trees were planted in reclamation efforts. Then in 1968, 924 acres of land, previously used by Southern Illinois University for research, was turned over to the state. It was at this time Pyramid became a state recreation area. In 2001, an expansion of the state park consisted of four land acquisitions. This became the most significant acquisition by the Department of Natural Resources, creating what is now the largest state park in Illinois. The park now has five units: Original Pyramid, Galum, Denmark, Captain, and East Conant.
Pyramid State Park is located in Pinckneyville, Illinois. Pinckneyville is a small city in Perry County, which is in the southern region of the state. Upon your arrival at the park, stop at the main office to pick up a parking permit. There are several entrances to the state park. The park's main office is at the southern entrance on Pyatt-Cutler Road; this is the best entry point for overnight guests checking in.
If visiting during the peak season or good weather, your drive to the park should be an easy one. However, in the winter months or periods of other inclement weather, be sure to check local weather and road conditions and come prepared. The roads can become hazardous from snow and ice.
From the state park, it is a 10-minute drive to downtown Pinckneyville so that you won’t be far from food or supplies during your stay. Though the park is far from isolated, it’ll feel that way once you are inside. The dense forest and acres upon acres of land will make everything else seem far away.
There are 54 campsites across three camping areas at the state park: Pyramid North Campground, Boulder Lake Campground, and Jim Batson Camping Trailer Area. Campsites at this state park are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations cannot be made online or over the phone. Try to arrive early to secure a spot, especially during peak season.
Each campsite has a gravel parking pad, a fire grill, and a picnic table. Due to the rugged nature of the park and gravel parking pads, be ready to level your rig if need be. You will find that there are no hookups at any site in the park, so be prepared with extra supplies for boondocking. Water and a dump station are available in the southern part of the state park, near the main office. There are restrooms located inside the state park. If camping during the winter months, cold weather may result in the water being shut off. Plan accordingly for the time of your visit. Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
If you prefer to reserve in advance, or if all the sites are full at the Pyramid Lake State Park Campground, there are a few alternative options for RV camping in the area. Both Shawnee National Forest and Trail of Tears State Forest sit to the south of the park and can be reached in under an hour, and Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is around 40 minutes to the east. These forests and parks offer a variety of RV friendly sites ranging in size lengths and amenities, so whether you are fine with roughing it at primitive style campgrounds, or are looking to camp in comfort with full hookups, you won't be disappointed.
Being over an old coal mine, Pyramid State Park has plenty of surprises to be found. Bring your metal-detecting gear along on your RV vacation and plan to spend the day searching through acres and acres of land. Be sure to follow the guidelines and obtain a permit before your visit. Contact the park with questions you may have regarding some of the requirements for metal detecting.
Hunting is allowed in some units of Pyramid State Park as long as the hunter has the appropriate hunting license and training. Waterfowl hunting is permitted in certain units of Pyramid State Park, but rules for waterfowl hunting are site-specific depending on the unit. Deer and upland game hunting are also allowed in this area, but rules governing the size of the deer are in place to help protect the deer population. Upland game hunting is by drawing only, and an application must be submitted in advance.
Archery isn't just for storybook characters and heroines of dystopian literature; people use bows and arrows for sport and hunting. If you've ever wanted to try archery or you are a seasoned bowman, there is an archery range in the state park. If you’re looking to brush up your skills, bring your equipment along in the Sprinter for your visit. With the open, uncrowded space, Pyramid State Park is the perfect spot to practice and improve your shooting skills.
The off-season is the best time to pack up the camera and point the Class B in the direction of Pyramid State Park. Fewer crowds mean more opportunity for you to snap stunning nature shots. If you tread lightly along the park's trail system, you have the chance to photograph some of the park's full-time residents like deer, beaver, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, woodchucks, and various other critters. If you keep your eyes to the sky, you may spot some songbirds worth capturing. The numerous lakes and ponds surrounded by the fall foliage in the surrounding forests all come together in perfect composition for you to take a true Instagram-worthy picture.
If you are planning to fish, you can set off by boat or on land to scout the best location to cast your reel. The larger lakes have boat ramps available, but all of the lakes, including the smaller ones, are accessible by foot. The lakes are full of largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. You may find redear sunfish and channel catfish as well, depending on which lake you’re fishing from.
There's plenty of trails to stretch your legs on after a long road trip in the campervan. The state park offers 16.5 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. You can quickly fill a day traipsing through the forest. Along the trails, you’ll be sure to find many of the park’s lakes and ponds. For the birdwatchers, several species live within the park and can be spotted with the naked eye or binoculars. Other common wildlife residing in the park include deer, beavers, and woodchucks.
Whether you’re planning to fish or simply paddle around to take in the scenery and wildlife, there are many bodies of water to explore at Pyramid State Park. Many of the larger lakes at the state park have boat ramps available for use. Kayaks or canoes are the best options if heading out on the water since motorboats must be operated at no-wake speeds. No rentals are available at the park, so those looking to play on the water will need to bring their own flotation devices along in the rig.
There isn't a better way to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate the scenery than by taking a picnic. Numerous picnic tables are spread throughout the park, and charcoal grills are also available for use. Pit toilets are situated near picnicking areas, so you won't have to walk far when duty calls. If you prefer to lunch closer to the Airstream, each campsite is equipped with its own private table. If you are traveling with a large group, the park offers one larger picnic shelter available for rent.