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Ferne Clyffe State Park is located in the state of Illinois and serves as a perfect getaway for a motorhome camping trip. Located near Illinois Route 37, the park is even accessible by the US Bicycle Route 76. On the outskirts of Goreville, which also happens to be the closest town to the state park, you’ll find renting an RV one of the best ways to explore the region. Not very far from the cities of Marion and Harrisburg, you’ll want to book an RV in Johnson County to explore the state park and cities nearby with ease.
Nestled in the majestic Shawnee Hills, the park is known for being one of the most scenic natural areas in the state for over a century, thanks to an abundance of ferns, picturesque woods, fascinating geological formations, and stunning views. A part of the land was owned by a schoolteacher in the area, who turned the land into a park that was open to visitors for a small fee. In 1929, she offered to sell the park to the state of Illinois. Today, the park occupies over 2,400-acres of land, attracting over 2,00,000 outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers each year.
With a varied landscape including limestone bluffs, cliff caves, forested woodlands and small waterfalls scattered through the park, you will see that Ferne Clyffe is an outdoor recreational haven, ideal for a state park RV camping trip. If you enjoy fishing, head to the Ferne Clyffe Lake, a 16-acre lake that has a depth of about twenty-two feet. Though swimming and boating are not allowed, anglers will have an enjoyable fishing experience at the lake that is populated with largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and redear. Should you just want to take in the beautiful lake views, head to the Lakeview Picnic Shelter or get on to the Blackjack Oak Trail. The park is home to twenty wildlife-hunting areas and plenty of game hunting opportunities. Deer, squirrel, wild turkey, quail and rabbit are popular game species available in the park. Be sure to check-in at the hunter check station before you begin hunting.
Hikers have as many as eighteen varied trails to explore when camping at Ferne Clyffe State Park. While you can only hike these trails (no motorized vehicles or bicycles are permitted on the trails), it’s a great way to check out the natural beauty of Ferne Clyffe. Some of the trails permit the use of horses, so look out for equestrian-designated trails. Try the Big Rocky Hollow Trail, an easy hike of less than a mile that takes you to a 100-foot high waterfall. Anglers can try the Ferne Clyffe Lake Trail, an easy one-mile hike that goes to the banks of the lake. If you’re looking forward to a challenging hike, try the Happy Hollow Trail, a five-mile-long trail that goes through the woods and old fields, and includes many steep climbs.
Ferne Clyffe State Park camping areas are varied in terms of camping requirements. From modern sites to more primitive ones, backpack sites or equestrian sites, there are quite a few to choose from. RV renters will find the Deer Ridge Campground suited to their needs. A Class A facility, the campground offers gravel pads with 30 and 50 AMP electric service, big rig access, water, picnic tables, and cooking grills, flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. Pets will enjoy access to the park’s trails, but remember to keep them leashed at all times.
Turkey Ridge Campground is suited to campers wanting to pitch a tent. This walk-in only campground also has showers, camp pads, picnic tables, and cooking grills, with toilets located near the parking lot.
If you want to camp in an RV near Ferne Clyffe State Park, consider the Hilltop Campground in Goreville. It has over 50 sites with big rig access, full hookups, pull-thru sites, 30 and 50 AMP electric service, water, sewers, and tent camping. Facilities also include restrooms and showers, a pet area for your furry friends to run around in, and a picnic shelter. There is plenty of space for the kids to run around and play.
A Johnson County camper rental will serve you well in your adventures through the area, especially when it comes to exploring the nearby cities. After your camping trip at Ferne Clyffe, it’s a good idea to stop by in the city of Marion, just about fifteen miles from the park. Nicknamed the ‘hub of the universe," the city’s ideal location at the crossroads of Illinois Route 13 and Interstate 57 makes it the perfect center for entertainment, shopping, and dining for southern Illinois. To stretch your legs, head to the Pyramid Park. The kids will love the skate park and the playground, while you get in a game of softball. With plenty of grilling spots across the park, it also doubles up as a great picnicking location.
Nature-lovers should make a beeline for the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, teeming with wild species. In addition to spotting wildlife, also check out the wildlife conservation efforts in place. Grab your cameras for some great pictures of wildlife on your visit here.
Fancy a quiet afternoon pouring over nearly 75,000 books? Head to the Marion Carnegie Library spread over 1,200 square feet of bibliophile heaven. Read up on ‘Grandma Cline’ while you’re there!
If you feel the need to get out there and stretch your legs in beautiful natural surroundings, Mandala Gardens is perfect. And in season, you could even buy fresh herbs and vegetables. Golfers can visit the Koopelli Golf Club for a fun afternoon of golf and lunch.
End your RV rental trip with a hearty meal at one of the popular chain restaurants in the city, before filling up your rental RV at one of the gas stations and heading out to explore more of the area.