Located four miles outside the town of Nashville in southern Illinois, Washington County State Recreation Area is a haven for outdoor activities and RV camping. The origins of the park start in 1959 when the State of Illinois purchased 160 acres near Nashville. In 1960, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources built the lake in the areas between two small creeks. This long, thin lake is one of the highlights of the park and it is surrounded by fields and woods. Additional acreage has been added to the original 160 acres and the park is now around 1,440 acres. Along with the lake, the addition of picnic and camping areas made this site a popular visit for outdoors enthusiasts and nature lovers.
The lake is the center of recreational activities at the park, whether that be boating on its 248 acres, or fishing or hiking its 13-mile shoreline. The park also has more than 900 acres for hunting, making it a paradise for shotgun or bow and arrow sportsmen. Camping at Washington County State Recreation Area is provided to RV lovers with 37 sites that all feature either 30 or 50 amp electrical hookups. The toilets in the campground close from the beginning of November until the start of April.
Washington County State Recreation Area is located in Southern Illinois four miles south of Nashville, Illinois. The park is in close proximity to Interstate 64, and both Illinois Highways 15 and 127. Due to the close location of the park to Nashville you will have no trouble finding the park or getting supplies for your stay.
Since Washington County State Recreation Area is just off Il-127 there will be no windy roads or overhanging trees that will disrupt your journey to the park. Besides Nashville the next closest towns to the park include Beaucoup, Radom and Ashley. The closest city to the park is Mount Vernon, which is around 37 miles from the park.
While there is only one entrance, since there are multiple major highways near the park there are many different ways to drive to it. If you are going East on I64 use exit 50. Go south on Illinois Highway 127, go through Nashville, turn left onto Conservation Road and continue until you reach the park entrance. If you are Going West on I-64 you can use the same exit. Go south on Illinois Highway 127, go through Nashville, turn left onto Conservation Road and continue until you reach the park entrance.
There is plenty of parking available at Washington County State Recreation Area.
Unfortunately there are no public transport options that will take you to Washington County State Recreation Area.
Camping at Washington County State Recreation Area is a very pleasant experience with many shady sites to choose from. The park is very clean and there are 37 RV friendly sites that all feature either 30 or 50 amp electrical hookups. Each site also has fire rings, BBQ grills and picnic tables. There are six water collection points located within the campground, one dump station, three toilet blocks and one shower block that is open from the start of April until the end of October. ADA accessible camping is also available for those who need it.
You should be able to get cell phone reception on most of the major networks within the park. There is a two night (Friday/Saturday) minimum stay that is required during Memorial Day, Independence Day (when July 4th falls on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday) and Labor Day weekends. The maximum length of stay in the campgrounds from May 1st through September 30th is 14 nights in any 30 day period. Camping is available all year round.
Fishing on Washington County Lake is a very popular summer activity that draws in people from all over who are looking to catch the big one. There are multiple possibilities as to what you can catch, with popular species including bluegill, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish and carp. You can fish from the banks of the lake or by water craft. A concession is available if you need to stock up on bait and/or tackle before casting out a line.
Want to do some boating? Well, you are in luck! Boating is allowed on Washington County Lake throughout the summer time. There are two boat launch ramps available for visitors to use, along with boat docks if you want to keep your boat in the lake during your stay. If you have a powered boat there is a limit of 10 motorboats. Kayaks, canoes and motorboats are available for rental from the concession stand.
For a special afternoon getaway or for some lovely casual relaxation, check out the picnic areas. In total there are seven picnic areas scattered around the lake that provide a peaceful and tranquil setting. The areas feature tables, outdoor stoves, drinking water and playground equipment. Three of the larger picnic shelters are available to be reserved and these are recommended if you have a large group. If you don't have any picnic supplies, don't fret. You can buy sandwiches and soft drinks at the concession stand.
Once the summer ends, hunting becomes a very popular activity for visitors to the park. There are 750 hunt-able acres in the park that can be hunted with shotgun and bow hunting. Animals that you can hunt in the park include deer, turkey, rabbit, quail, dove, skunk, fox, coyote and raccoons. Using .22's are only permitted for skunk, fox, coyote and raccoons. Trapping is also allowed but you must follow the regulations as stated on the park website.
Looking for an invigorating walk during your stay? There is a a seven-mile-long, marked trail available for visitors to use throughout the year. This trail circles the lake and hikers can enjoy viewing the majestic trees, beautiful wildflowers or the numerous birds and animals residing in the area. Even if you don't complete the whole lap of the lake you can take in the sights and then turn around and head back to the camping area.
Southern Illinois has some fantastic birding opportunities and Washington County State Recreation Area is no different. The lake within the park is the main attraction for birds in the area with migratory waterfowl that appear more than a month before northern Illinois due to the early spring in the south. In March migrating sandhill cranes and raptors also begin flying over Illinois so you might be able to catch a glimpse of them if you are visiting the park during this time.