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History buffs and war reenactors will want to rent an RV in Massac County and camp at Fort Massac State Park to experience one of its infamous Revolutionary War-era encampments. Fort Massac, in Metropolis, Illinois, was Illinois’ first state park, founded in 1908 due to its historical significance. The site has been historically significant since Spanish explorers first settled the area in the 16th century, and it saw heavy military action in every conflict from the French and Indian War through the War of 1812. It served as a training camp during the Civil War, and it soon came under civilian care and entered the state parks system.
Fort Massac State Park is on the southern end of Illinois, along the strategic Ohio River, 150 miles northeast of Nashville. This 1,500-acre state park is surrounded by nature preserves and parks, making it an ideal destination for a tour of the western end of the Ohio River Valley, where the river is nearly a mile wide here. In addition to the historic reenactments, visitors can go hiking, picnicking, fishing, and hunting. The restored wooden fort is open year-round.
Fort Massac State Park is a beautiful setting for a hike or long walk. You can start with a short, easy, one-mile interpretive loop trail through a wooded area near the fort. The longest trail, which also goes outside of the park, is the nearly nine-mile George Rogers Clark Discovery Trail. This dedicated walking and biking path meanders along the Ohio River and connects the cities of Metropolis and Brookport. There's also the shorter Hickory Nut Ridge Trail, another scenic trail that wanders for two and a half miles along the Ohio River.
The mighty Ohio River provides ample fishing and boating opportunities at Fort Massac State Park. A boat ramp provides easy access to the river, and you can also fish from the shore. Anglers can catch largemouth bass, catfish, and carp, among others. Hunting is also allowed at Fort Massac State Park, in season and in designated areas of the park. Visitors are allowed to hunt for deer, rabbit, squirrel, and woodcocks. Check the park regulations for current information about hunting.
Fort Massac State Park also offers numerous other activities to keep the entire family entertained. There's an 18-hole disc golf course within the park, and you don’t even need to bring your own discs. There are also several picnic areas within the park with covered picnic tables and grills. These picnic areas also have playgrounds, drinking water, and bathrooms nearby.
If you’re RV camping at Fort Massac State Park, you’ll find 50 RV sites with a mix of 30-amp and 50-amp electric hookups. The sites are all back-in sites and can accommodate the largest RV rentals up to 65 feet. All of the campsites are spacious, as the entire campground is situated in a large, flat, open area. Even though the campground has an open feeling to it, large trees spread throughout the campground add shade and a sense of privacy.
You’ll find showers, flushing toilets, and drinking water at the Fort Massac State Park RV campground. Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring, and grill in a grassy area next to the driveway. Your pets are allowed as long as they’re kept on a leash, and your children will enjoy the nearby playgrounds. You’ll find a sanitary dump station to empty the tank before leaving the campground.
The biggest draw to the Metropolis area is the Fort Massac Encampment. This week-long festival is held each year in late October when the fall colors are at their peak. The encampment gives you a feel of fort life in the 18th century, with period food, artisans, gifts, and games. The highlight is the battle reenactment, and you’ll find actors representing French, British, and American colonists. If you don’t visit in the fall, you can still experience some of this at the visitors' center. Here, you’ll find artifacts from both colonial and prehistoric times, educational videos, and tours of the archeological site.
You’ll be on the outskirts of Metropolis when you’re camping at Fort Massac State Park. Metropolis is a decent-sized city with fuel, provisions, and restaurants serving up tender steaks and barbecue. Massac Forest Nature Preserve borders Fort Massac State Park, where you can continue to enjoy hiking and the outdoors. The unique rock formations of the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area are just under an hour to the north near Herod, giving you more camping, hiking, and photography opportunities in the Shawnee National Forest. If you drive just over a half-hour to the south, you’ll find more camping and recreational activities in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, in between Fort Massac and Nashville. Other nearby cities include Memphis, three hours to the south, and St. Louis, roughly three hours to the north.