Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area
Guide

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Introduction

Located on the banks of the Illinois River, Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area is a nature lover’s haven, with dozens of species of birds and mammals populating its acres of beautiful bottomland forest and backwater lakes.

If you are looking to fish, you’ll find well-stocked waters throughout the area. The main fishing areas are located along the Illinois River, where you’ll find plenty of largemouth bass, channel catfish, and smallmouth buffalo. Hunters will also find plenty of game to keep them busy. Archery hunting is popular in the park, and there are designated areas where you can hunt for waterfowl.

Hikers will have plenty of trails to explore too. There’s a network of trails that will allow you to weave your way through the forests surrounding the scenic river waters. If you visit during the winter, you’ll be able to use the same trails as a cross-country skiing course. The acres of water make for excellent boating of all kinds, from kayaking to jet skiing.

The RV sites within the campground are situated near the park’s boat launch and main areas. The sites can accommodate campervans and RVs of different sizes, so you should be able to find a site that suits your rig. Come for a day or for a week. You’ll find plenty of natural sights to keep you occupied throughout your stay at Woodford Fish and Wildlife Area.

RV Rentals in Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area

Transportation in Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area

Driving

Located in northwestern Illinois, Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area is within driving distance of multiple major cities in the region.

If you are coming from Chicago, take I-55 and I-80, and you will reach the park in around two and a half hours. Driving from St. Louis, take I-55 north out of the city, and you will arrive at the park in a little under three hours. The park can also be reached from Milwaukee. Just take I-39 and I-43, and you will get to the park in around three hours.

There is only one main road leading into the park, but it takes you directly to the campgrounds, so you’ll have no trouble getting to your RV site. This area is susceptible to occasional flooding so make sure to call ahead to check weather conditions.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area

Campsites in Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area

Reservations camping

Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area Campground

The campground at the Woodford Fish and Wildlife Area is available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

If you are itching to make reservations there is another campground at the nearby Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area, which is about five miles away. The sites at this campground have electrical hookups, with a maximum RV length of 30 feet.

The sites here can be reserved online. You’ll have to reserve your spot at least three days and up to 180 days in advance.

First-come first-served

Woodford Fish and Wildlife Area Campground

There are primitive campsites available within the park, none of which have hookups of any kind. There are water pits and sanitary dump stations located within the campground. Pets are welcome at all of the campsites.

The main trails of the park can be reached quickly from all of the campsites. And they are located just a few minutes from the park’s boat launch.

The sites cannot be reserved, but are available on a first-come first-served basis. It is advised that you call ahead of your visit and ask about availability, especially if you plan on visiting during the summer. The campground occasionally closes due to flooding

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area

In-Season

Hunting

The park is also a popular destination for hunters. Squirrel hunting is allowed year round. The grassy terrain makes for excellent archery deer hunting. There are also separate areas that are designated for waterfowl hunting.

As the area is a state park, hunting laws are strictly enforced. Make sure you are paying attention to season dates. And always take extra caution, as there are many hikers who walk around the park year round.

Hiking

Woodford State Wildlife Area also features over three miles of marked trails, so those looking to explore the park on foot will have plenty of ground to cover. The forests around the Illinois River are packed with wildlife, from birds to deer, as well as dozens of species of plants and trees.

Most of the trails are closed when waterfowl migrate in the fall. Check with park officials during your visit to see the status of the trails.

Fishing

Woodford Fish and Wildlife Area is popular for its fishing. Nearly 2,500 of the park’s 2,900 acres are water, giving fishers plenty of room to cast their reels. The wells make for some of the best winter fishing in the region, should you want to try your hand at ice fishing. There is a boat launch located near the park’s entrance, within a short walk of the campground.

Off-Season

Cross-Country Skiing

If you choose to visit the park for an RV trip during the winter, make sure to bring a pair of skis with your rig. The network of trails that weaves along the shores of the Illinois River turns into an excellent cross-country skiing course. The forests are active during the colder months of the year, with many species of birds and mammals still living in the areas around the river.

Beginner skiers should note that the trails are often ungroomed, so skiing could be difficult after heavy snow storms. There are no rentals, so you’ll need to make sure you have all of the gear you need.

Biking

Bring a bike along with your campervan and you’ll be able to explore all of the park’s hiking trails at a faster pace. The main trails can easily be reached from the RV campground. Should you want to extend your ride, you can connect to other trails that will let you explore more of the Illinois River. Do take extra caution, especially during peak summer months, as the trails are shared with hikers.

Birdwatching

In addition to the many mammals that roam the park, you’ll find a wide variety of birds. The park is a common stop on the migration route of numerous species of waterfowl, including Canada geese and wood ducks.

You’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of some rarer bird species, such as hawks, barred owls, and bald eagles in the winter. And there is a variety of species of woodpeckers and songbirds.

Illinois has a number of excellent bird watching societies, many of which have field guides. Pick one of these up before you visit the park and you’ll be able to learn more about the bird species that populate the park.

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