With over 60 state parks, and the same number of recreational and wildlife areas located within its border, Illinois has plenty of places to head to when you want to escape to nature.
Taking the form of everything from comparatively small day trip destinations to huge parks that contain massive lakes, deep canyons, dense woodland and beautiful hillsides, these places offer fantastic opportunities to engage in a range of outdoor activities. These include the likes of hiking, fishing, swimming, mountain biking, boating and camping.
Proffering free entry, many of these state parks are located within easy driving distance of Springfield. So if you want to spend some quality time with the family, enjoy a short romantic getaway with your partner, or simply be on your own for a while, you have plenty of choice available to you.
Outlined below is a list of 5 state parks near Springfield we highly recommend. All of which offer something a little different in terms of landscape, landmarks or activities.
Map of State Parks Near Springfield IL
Here is a map of the Illinois state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Springfield
These 5 state parks near Springfield are lovely places to visit for a day. However should you want to stay there overnight, or for longer, there are plenty of camping and accommodation options available at them all.
1. Matthiessen State Park
Location: 2500 IL-178, Oglesby, IL 61348
Showcasing a beautiful landscape of forest, canyons, prairie and streams, Matthiessen State Park enjoy a picturesque setting.
Situated in LaSalle County, about a 2 hour 10 minute drive north of Springfield, this area is a haven for those who have an interest in geology and nature. Boasting many fascinating rock formations as well as thriving flora and fauna, the park offers a number of scenic picnic spots.
A noted spot for rambling and horseback riding, there is a very good equestrian campground within the park, as well as a number of other regular camping sites. Available on a first come, first serve basis, costs at this equine accommodation start from as little as $10 a night. It also features a mounting station, restrooms and water hydrants.
2. Walnut Point State Park
Location: 2331 East CR 370 N, Oakland, IL 61943
Comprising of 671-acres of spectacular woodland, waterways and wildlife, Walnut Point State Park is a very popular state park for residents of Springfield to head to when they want a break from city life.
A 2 hour drive east from the city, this charming state park in east-central Illinois offers something for everyone. Hikers and nemophilists will enjoy the 2.25 miles of trails that meander through the forest, while anglers will love catching the likes of largemouth bass, bluegill and brown bullhead at any of the fingerlike coves that make up the stunning Walnut Point Lake.
The lake also offers good opportunities for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing, whilst in the winter you can even indulge in ice fishing, ice skating and cross country skiing.
Bordering the lake are eight wooded picnic areas complete with drinking water and outdoor grills. There are also 2 sets of playground equipment for the kids to enjoy and 3 horseshoe pits.
The park also offers several types of camping including ‘Class A’ sites with electric hook-ups and a shower building that has flushing toilets, as well as primitive ‘Class C’ walk-in tents too.
3. Eagle Creek State Park
Location: 2341 Eagle Creek Road, Findlay, IL 62534
A little bit closer to home for Springfield residents is Eagle Creek State Park. Situated an hour and 15 minute drive south east from the city, this 11,100 acre park is centered around Lake Shelbyville.
Encompassing 250 miles of shoreline, this park is a terrific spot for outdoor recreation with everything from hiking, horseback riding and fishing, to water skiing, pontoon boating and windsurfing being regularly undertaken here.
In the winter this is also a very good spot for snowmobiling, whilst in the fall the colours of the woodland are incredible. The park is also notable for the large herds of deer which reside in the area.
Should you want to stay here, there are ‘75 Class A’ sites available that offer showers, electricity, picnic tables, water hydrants and fire blocks. There are also more rustic camping options available too.
4. Prophetstown State Park
Location: 5545 Swisher Road Office:, 4112 IN-225, West Lafayette, IN 47906
Nestled on the beautiful south bank of the Rock River, at the northeastern fringes of Prophetstown, lies the Prophetstown State Park.
It’s a bit of a drive from Springfield and will take you 3 hours 10 mins to complete the north eastern journey, but it is well worth the journey to get there.
A very scenic and historic area, the 53-acre park resides on the site of a former American Indian village. It actually gets its name from the Native American prophet Wa-bo-kie-shiek, and offers plenty of opportunity for fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming.
The campground here runs from May 1st all the way through to October 31st and features both tent and trailer camping. It also has a shower building with flush toilets, electrical outlets and a dump station.
5. Apple River Canyon State Park
Location: 8763 E Canyon Rd, Apple River, IL 61001
At 4 hours north the Apple River Canyon State Park is the furthest state park from Springfield on this list. But it is also one of the most stunning too.
Featuring a gorgeous landscape of deep ravines, limestone bluffs, picturesque streams and quaint springs, the park is a haven for those who love the beauty of nature.
Situated in the northwest corner of Illinois, this scenic canyon area was once part of a vast sea bottom which extended all the way from the Rockies down to the Alleghenies. Carved by the winds and rampaging waters of the Apple River, the 1,907 acre parks is very popular today with hikers and nature photographers
For those wanting to stay the night, there are 49 Class ‘C’ sites available in the Canyon Ridge Campground, none of which have showers. There are also 6 group sites here too in the Walnut Grove Youth Campground.