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Camping Eldon Hazlet State Park in Illinois

Eldon Hazlet State Park Camping

Camp Illinois: I’m talking with Gary today. He’s the Site Superintendent at Eldon Hazlet State Park in Illinois. How’s it going today, Gary?

Gary: Going great.

CI: So, let’s just start with how Eldon Hazlet State Park got its start and how long its been there.

Photo courtesy of Doug Leedy

Photo courtesy of Doug Leedy

Gary: Well, Mr. Hazlet was an attorney, practicing out of Carlyle, Illinois, and he led the lobbying efforts to create Carlyle Lake, dam it up, and subsequently, they named the State Park after him. This Park was formed back in the late ’60, early ’70s.

CI: Okay, and pretty good size. Looks like it’s a 3,000-acre site, as listed on the website here.

Gary: Correct. We’re also the largest public campground in the State of Illinois Park System. We have 327 electric sites and 35 walk-in tent sites.

CI: Wow, okay. And what are the most popular activities for guests there?

Photo courtesy of Marcus Watkins

Photo courtesy of Marcus Watkins

Gary: This is a camping and boating facility. That’s really the preponderance of activities; is based around our campground and around our boat ramps. We’re on Carlyle Lake, which is a 27,000-acre lake, located an hour out of St. Louis, Missouri, or five hours south of Chicago. So, from the standpoint of location, we are well situated to attract visitors of all kinds. But our campground is really water-based. I mean we have a lot. During the summer months, with the peak season, most everybody here is either with friends that have a boat or they’re using the lake in some capacity.

CI: Okay. So, fishing, water skiing – all those types of activities.

Gary: Correct.

CI: Okay. Well, since there’s so much there, let me just try to narrow it down with just two more questions. If you could only spend one hour in the Park, how would you spend your time?

Photo courtesy of Sue Long Chasteen

Photo courtesy of Sue Long Chasteen

.Gary: Depends on the season I guess. I mean, in the fall and the wintertime, we have different types of hunting programs. We have a controlled program in November, December, and early January. In the hottest months of the year, the bass fishing for white bass is as good as anywhere in Illinois. This weekend, for example, we’re already sold out. Our campground, for this weekend, we have a big Halloween Festival, where they decorate the campsites and they paint pumpkins and have a big scavenger hunt. So, we’ve already sold out this weekend, five days in advance of Friday I guess. So, it really depends on what you like to do.

CI: Okay. And it sounds like you guys can accommodate just about any type of camper, all the way from rustic to group camping scenarios, all the way up to RV and even the Rent-a-Cabins.

Gary: We have two Rent-a-Cabins in the campground. We also have twenty lakefront cottages. They’re essentially a 650 square-foot small house located on the lake. They’re run by a private concessionaire, and this concessionaire also runs the public swimming pool in the summer months.

CI: Okay, one more question for you, Gary. If you could spend just one night in Eldon Hazlet State Park, which specific campsite are you going to choose and why?

Gary: Pad 10 is the best site in Illinois. It’s on the Reservation Program at ReserveAmerica.com, and it’s simply a fabulous campsite. It’s located right on the bluff. It’s got a little pocket of water alongside it if you have a boat, and you can’t beat it.

CI: Perfect.

Gary: But I’ve got 30 more sites just like it as you go through the campground. One-third of our sites are located either on the water or with a view of the lake.

CI: So really it’s hard to go wrong.

Gary: It is hard to go wrong.

CI: All right. Well, Gary, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to talk with us about Eldon Hazlet State Park in Illinois.

Gary: Thank you very much.

CI: All right, take care.

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