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Big River State Forest is a multi-use outdoor recreational area near Oquawka that is used for timber resource education and supply. The forest was first established in 1925, although land acquisitions since then have increased its size substantially. In the past, there were stands of hardwood trees, but these have been cultivated and replaced with the much quicker growing pine species; part of the reason for this was to demonstrate how pine trees are much more commercially successful. As a result, many nearby landowners have followed suit and created pine tree farms that have achieved similar results.
The forest's headquarters area is home to a fire tower, a prominent landmark in the area, and an operational structure during peak fire periods. You can come here to hike the established trails that wind their way through the landscape; there are also miles upon miles of firebreak roads that can be explored as long as there aren't any active fires within the park. The firebreak roads divide the park into separate sections and help to restrict fires from growing out of control once they have started.
The park has several roads that pass through its borders, making a relaxing self-guided auto tour of the park possible. One of the roads passes near Campbell Slough; you can park your Oquawka camper rental here and attempt to catch a glimpse of the bird species that migrate through the area, such as the Canada goose, green-winged teals, and wood ducks. Campbell Slough and Putney's Landing are good destinations for enjoying a picnic lunch. Both of these areas have picnic tables, stoves, and drinking water, as well as shelters.
In addition to hiking, the fire roads can be used for horseback riding and those who want to observe the bird species and different mammals that call the park home. Backpackers heading deep into the area to primitive camp can make their way using the fire roads too. Horses can be rented locally if you know how to ride. If you prefer fishing, you can do so in the Mississippi River, either from the riverbank or on the river. There are a couple of places where you can launch a boat; the river holds several species of fish, such as crappie, bluegill, and bass. North of Putney's Landing, you can go ice fishing on Spring Slough in the winter. When you rent a camper near Big River State Park, these are just some of the experiences that can be yours.
Hunting is allowed in season for white-tailed deer and smaller game such as rabbit, quail, and squirrels. Food plots are established throughout the park, ensuring that the population of mammals in the park remains stable. You can also hunt for waterfowl, which has its own particular season. Some of the waterfowl species on hand are mallards, in addition to the wood ducks and Canada geese. If you'd prefer to hunt with a camera, motorhome camping near Big River State Forest can make it possible.
Book an RV rental near Oquakwa Township and you can explore Big River State Forest and the surrounding area to your heart's content. Shady Park Campground is located within the forest; it has restrooms and a dump station, a volleyball and a basketball court, and a beach along the Mississippi River where you can swim. A few of the individual campsites can be reserved, and some are allocated for tent camping.
You can also try camping at Delabar State Park. It has an RV and tent campground with electrical hookups and drinking water. It is also located along the banks of the Mississippi River. If you choose to stay here, you can ice fish or ice skate on the river in the winter and go hiking along the park trails during the summer. If you like fishing, there's a boat ramp on the river and a small lake in the nearby Henderson County Conservation Area.
While you're renting an RV near Big River State Forest, you should check out some of the other local towns and cities. Galesburg is a small community with museums and important landmarks. One of the museums is focused on children's learning, specifically in arts and in science; it has interactive exhibits that are engaging and fun. Another museum covers the local history of trains and has an actual steam engine that you can enter and explore. If you want to get some shopping in, there is an antique store you can browse through and a vendor that sells stained glass from a working studio; you can even take classes and learn to make your own stained glass projects. If the day is getting long and hunger sets in, Galesburg is still the place to be with a long list of restaurants that includes pub restaurants, Mexican food, pizzerias and steakhouses, and more.
Monmouth is another small town slightly closer to Big River State Forest with museums, restaurants, and an active nightlife. One of its museums is a demonstration of many different cultural aspects of Warren County, such as its military, its farms, and education. If you wander through, you'll see exhibits like farming equipment and antique stoves. The museum has an extensive collection and is managed by volunteers who are knowledgeable and love their work.