Featuring five stunning lakes, three campgrounds, and plenty of family-friendly recreational activities, Sibley State Park is a top-tier RV holiday destination. The history of Sibley State Park dates back to 1917 when the townspeople in the area noticed that many visitors thought the surrounding area was a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day. The park was officially established in 1919 and received its name in honor of the first governor of Minnesota, Henry Hastings Sibley. From 1935 to 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the structures that are still standing on the park grounds to this day. Due to its historical value, the park was also added to the National Register of Historic Places.
While Sibley State Park is on the smaller side, there are 41 acres for you to explore with your family year-round. Since the park is open year-round, there are plenty of winter and summer activities to enjoy during your stay. Some of the main attractions are the five lakes that surround the park, with the largest lake known as Norway Lake. Andrew Lake provides a lovely beach which opens Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, and a beach store is also available where you can buy necessities that you may have forgotten to pack. The park also offers boating, fishing for water activities, and walking, horseback riding, hiking, and biking trails for land activities. If you decide that you would instead learn about the different plants and animals that call the park home, you can go to the interpretive center, try geocaching, or take a look at Minnesota’s Birding Checklist.
The camping options are fantastic at Sibley State Park, with two RV friendly campgrounds available for you to call home. Both of the campgrounds feature electric hookups, and if you are traveling with your horse, there is also an equestrian campground available. Any time of the year is the perfect time to bring your RV to Sibley State Park, so pack up your rig and plan your RVing adventure!
If all roads lead to Rome, then half of them must travel by Sibley State Park. Illinois State Route 48 travels directly through the park, and IL-9, IL-5, and IL-71 all run parallel to the perimeter of the park. The park is located in New London, making it relatively close to Sunburg, Spicer, Norway Lake, and Hawick. You can swing by any of these towns and pick up some groceries or fishing rods. Each town is located near beautiful lakes, and many of these towns have lovely little shopping boutiques and restaurants if you want a night out on the town.
The entrance to Sibley State Park welcomes you with a large sign. The roads are narrow and hilly and may have a few potholes, and some sections of the drive have low-hanging branches. Once you get to your spot, please note that the sites are not even, so you may need a few bricks to help balance your rig. There are sharp corners and tight spaces, so the campground is not recommended for those with an RV over 60 feet long. While the park is big rig friendly, the sites in the Lakeview Campground are close together, leaving little room for privacy. Oak Ridge and the equestrian campgrounds are much more spacious.
The campgrounds are open in the winter months, but a lot of the amenities are not available. In case of inclement weather, the park may close, deeming trails and the campground unsafe for visitors. For those just visiting for a day trip, there are plenty of places for you to park. If you are worried about the status of the park, you can always call the park office to double-check that it will be open.
The Oak Ridge Campground, the smaller of the two RV friendly accommodation options for guests to Sibley State Park, is open from April through November. In total, there are 58 sites in this campground, including 34 sites that are equipped with electric hookups. You won't find any water or sewer hookups, but there are a couple of water collection points and a dump station available for use from early-April to late-October before the temperatures dip below freezing. Oak Ridge Campground has gravel pads and can fit trailers and RVs up to 70 feet long. Each lot is shaded and comes with a picnic table and a fire ring. The sites are farther apart and offer some privacy from your neighbors than the Lakeview Campground. You will also be close to Tom’s Mountain and several other trailheads. Other amenities in the campground include hot showers and restrooms. Reservations are recommended, and they can be made up to 11 months in advance. You can stay up to 14 days at a time during your visit, but remember that the campground will be closed from the end of November until the start of April.
Lakeview Campground (which is the largest campground in the park) is located near the Andrew Lake and the beach area. Unlike the Oak Ridge Campground, the sites at the Lakeview Campground don't offer much privacy as they are situated closer together. Despite this, you will still have lots of shade, and you will also be closer to the beach.
There are 74 sites available from April to November, with 53 of these sites being equipped with electric hookups while the others are all primitive sites. There are water collection points available, and a dump station is also close by. Each site features a picnic table and fire ring, while the shared amenities of the campground include hot showers and restrooms. Firewood can be purchased from the park office since the state won't permit you to bring your own. Pets are also allowed in Lakeview Campground, but they should be leashed at all times. Like the Oak Ridge Campground, you can make a reservation for no more than 14 days at a time and up to 11 months in advance.
There are nine sites in the equestrian campground that are perfect for you and your horse. There are no hookups here, but a dump station is nearby, and a water spigot is provided. Each site can fit six people with a maximum trailer length of 60 feet. The pads are grassy and level, so setting up your campsite should be a breeze. Amenities included at each site are a fire ring and a picnic table. There are no showers in this area, but you can use the showers in the other campgrounds. This campground is open from April to November, and weather permitting, the trails may be open as well. Parking for this campground is located near Henchien Lake. Only approved firewood is allowed for use in the park and can be picked up at the park office.
The park has 18 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails waiting for you to explore. The trails are open year-round, and they have beautiful fall colors and a wonderful winter view during the off-season. One of the more challenging trails is Tom’s Mountain Trail, which is a three-mile trail with plenty of ups and downs. Pay careful attention to the trail signs and bring a map with you when you go. You will need a pair of sturdy hiking boots (so remember to pack them), and if you plan on hiking in winter, be sure to bundle up and use snowshoes to make the hike a little easier.
Andrew Lake’s shoreline offers a white sandy beach with miles of summertime fun. You can take your family there to enjoy a relaxing day on the beach or pop over to the volleyball court for a fun game. The beach is a great place to go for a dip, but you will be responsible for your own safety. There is also a beach store nearby where you can rent various watercraft or just get a few snacks to eat on your trip to the beach.
Sibley State Park has seven miles of trails for you to explore with your horse, so it is a great destination for RV lovers who also love to ride. All trails within the park begin and end at the Horse Trail Center near Henchien Lake, so this area of the park will be where you spend most of your time. You will also find the Equestrian Campground near Henchien Lake with parking and stables for your horses. You will need a Horse Pass if you are 16 years or older, and you can find these online or buy from the camp’s main office.
Birding is a family-friendly activity that is perfect for the avid nature lover who wants to explore whats living in the trees. If you are interested in getting to know the birds that call Sibley State Park home, then you should swing by the camp store and pick up a bird checklist. The checklist will provide you with a list of commonly seen birds and rare birds. One of the best birding areas in the park is Tom’s Mountain. Here you should be on the lookout for the house sparrow, great blue heron, Canadian geese, indigo buntings, and egrets. Remember to pack your binoculars and a pair of sturdy hiking boots in your rig as you explore and learn about the different birds and their diverse habitat.
Fishing fans will be very pleased to note that there are several docks and launching ramps near the different lakes within the park. You can launch your boat near Lakeview Campground into Andrew Lake, so it's easy to fish from a quiet spot in the middle of the water. There are also fishing piers and a cleaning station to help with your big catch of the day. Common catches at Sibley State Park include catfish, bass, crappie, sunfish, bullhead, and perch. If you need any fishing gear, you will have to grab it outside of the park and remember, you are required to have a valid Minnesota fishing license if you are over the age of 17.
During the winter months, there are eight miles of cross-country trails within Sibley State Park for the experienced skier to enjoy. The trails range from intermediate to challenging with hilly terrain to keep your heart rate up. The trails are not free and do require you to have a ski pass, which you can purchase from the park office. It is recommended that you explore with a buddy so that you won't be alone out in the colder temperatures where things can go wrong.