2008 Forest River Salem
2008 Forest River Salem
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Carbondale is the largest city in southern Illinois and a hotspot for outdoor recreation. It’s also the home of Southern Illinois University, which gives the city a cosmopolitan feel and has led to an influx of diverse dining and shopping options in its downtown area. Carbondale is also just a couple of hours' drive away from St. Louis, one of the largest cities in the Midwest.
Carbondale is nicknamed “Little Egypt,” but it’s not due to a significant Egyptian population residing there, but because it’s where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers come together in Southern Illinois to create a fertile floodplain, not unlike the Nile in Egypt. As such, there are a number of towns in the area named after the famed cities of antiquity: Cairo, Thebes, and Sparta.
Carbondale is renowned for its world-class outdoor recreational facilities, and you’re bound to find some sort of adventure no matter which way you head out of town; the main attraction though, is Giant City State Park to the south. Hiking, biking, and equestrian trails crisscross the 4,000-acre green space, and several cabins and a lodge built during the Great Depression dot the landscape. The park is also part of the 160-mile long River to River Trail that extends from the Ohio River in Elizabethtown to Grand Tower on the Mississippi.
The Shawnee National Forest is also just next door and has canopy tours for those who aren’t afraid of heights. If you’d prefer to stay firmly rooted on the ground, a sprawling network of hiking trails also serves the forest.
However, if you’re hoping to hit the links when you book an RV in Carbondale, there are several courses within a short drive of town, including one adjacent to Giant City State Park.
The city puts a strong emphasis on outdoor recreation, so it should come as no surprise that Carbondale has quite a few amazing campgrounds within a short drive. Crab Orchard Campground is one of the nearest places to camp when you get an RV rental in Carbondale. Some of their sites have full hookups, and many have only electrical and water or none at all. Most people come here to enjoy the beauty of the three area lakes: Crab Orchard, Devils Kitchen, and Little Grassy. Look for boat rentals in Carbondale if you want to get out on the water, especially if you want to take advantage of their excellent fishing (with a proper state license).
Little Grassy Lake Campground and Marina is another solid option for your motorhome rental from Carbondale as they have full hookups, a dump station, canoe and kayak rentals for use on the lake, and a small store for picking up the essentials. There’s also a wealth of interesting hiking trails at the adjacent Giant City State Park.
At the southern end of Little Grassy Lake is the Giant City Campground, which offers several sites with hookups for your camper rental from Carbondale, but overall is less developed than some of the previously mentioned camping areas. However, if you’re interested in riding horses, there’s a stable nearby that can get you set up on a trail ride.
A final camping option is the parking lot of the local Walmart, which will require the manager’s permission and doesn’t come with any amenities.
Thanks to the nearby university and all of the attractions that come with a college town, you’ll never find yourself bored in Carbondale. If you’re bringing the kids along when you get a travel trailer rental in Carbondale, you’ll probably want to plan for a day at the Science Center of Southern Illinois. The whole museum is interactive with everything from digging for fossils to getting up close with small animals. Most of their exhibits are geared towards younger children though, and might not be suitable for teens or preteens.
The little ones might also enjoy a day at the local water park when you rent an RV in Carbondale. It has some smaller slides, along with a lazy river, and some lanes set up to do some laps while the kids are playing; this is one of the best spots to cool off on a hot summer afternoon.
When you need some more sophisticated entertainment, consider a night out at the McLeod Theater, which has some amazing performances put on by the university’s finest thespians. You should also catch a game at the SIU Arena, home of the Salukis basketball team. Since they’re on the university campus and parking can be a bit of struggle, it might be best to leave your RV back at the park.