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Illinois doesn’t have a lot in the way of rolling hills, making Fox Ridge State Park stand out among the other, flatter state parks. Like much of the rest of Illinois, the terrain at Fox Ridge was also formed by glaciers in the last ice age. It’s incredible to hike among the park’s many trails and imagine it covered in thousands of feet of ice. Native American tribes settled into the area in approximately the 17th century, and Europeans arrived soon after, using the river for trade and commerce.
The Civilian Conservation Corps began construction of trails, picnic shelters, bathrooms, and a small lake in 1935 after nearby residents helped preserve the surrounding land. A few of these historic buildings still stand today, along with more modern campground facilities. Visitors to Fox Ridge State Park can partake in RV camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting. This 2,064-acre park is located in eastern Illinois, eight miles south of Charleston and 200 miles south of Chicago. You can enjoy the campground at this park year-round after you book an RV in Coles County.
Fox Ridge State Park has a vast network of hiking trails making great use of the relatively small space it occupies. There are eight looping trails, all connected, so you can make them as long as you want. In all, there are eight miles of trails and 18 bridges crossing seasonal streams. The Fox Ridge Trail is a steep but popular trail through hilly terrain with views. There’s also the peaceful, flat trail along the Embarras River. For the best views in the park, climb the 144 steps to Eagle’s Nest, where you’ll arrive at a platform overlooking the Embarras River.
Both the Embarras River and Ridge Lake offer excellent fishing opportunities. Ridge Lake is a manmade lake stocked with catfish, bass, and bluegill. It’s a research facility for the Illinois Natural History Survey, so you’ll need a permit for fishing. You won’t need this permit to fish from the river, but you may find some difficulty getting to the river as the banks are relatively steep.
Hunting is permitted year-round, and 1,129 acres are set aside for hunting in the northern section of the park. You’ll need a permit, and when in season, you can hunt for pheasant, wild turkey, rabbit, and deer.
The Fox Ridge State Park RV campground is open year-round, and you’ll find a full four distinct seasons at this park. The campsites are mostly flat, level spots in a wooded area that provides both shade and privacy. There are 42 RV sites at Fox Ridge State Park that can accommodate motorhome rentals up to 40 feet long. Two of these sites are wheelchair accessible. All RV sites have either 30-amp or 50-amp electric service, and a dump station is available in the campground.
Campground amenities at Fox Ridge include modern bathrooms with flushing toilets and showers, though the showers are closed in the winter. Drinking water is spread throughout the park. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill in a grassy area next to the gravel driveway. You can bring your pets with you while camping at Fox Ridge State Park, but they’ll need to be on a leash no longer than ten feet.
The closest town to Fox Ridge State Park is Charleston, just ten minutes to the north. In Charleston, you’ll find several gas stations, some big box stores for reprovisioning, and some cozy family diners serving hot comfort food. There’s also the Greenwood School Museum in Charleston, which is an old one-room restored schoolhouse from the 19th century. Other historic sites near Fox Ridge State Park include the Five Mile House, a well-preserved and restored house from the 1840s, and the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, home of Abraham’s parents.
When you’re ready to venture further from Fox Ridge State Park in your rental RV, you have plenty of options in every direction. Interstate 70 is just ten minutes south of Fox Ridge and opens up several exploration opportunities for you. Terre Haute is one hour to the east, home to numerous outstanding museums and parks. St. Louis is two hours to the west, and while you’re there, you can explore the infamous Gateway Arch, the St. Louis Zoo, and Six Flags, to name a few of the countless activities in this city. And of course, if you head north, you’ll wind up in Chicago after three hours, where you can begin your exploration of the Great Lakes area.