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Camping Ferne Clyffe State Park in Illinois

Camp Illinois spoke with Bill Reyonolds, at Ferne Clyffe State Park. He gave us some insights on the campgrounds, best activities to take part in and where he would camp within the park. Read below for some insider information on tips for camping at the park.

Bill’s Favorite Things To Do
If I could spend only one hour in the area, I would park at the Big Rocky Hollow trailhead and hike to the waterfall at the end of the trail. This is an easy hike and leads to one of the most scenic natural features in the park – bring your camera.

Bill’s Favorite Campsite
If I could spend just one night camping at Ferne Clyffe I would stay in the Deer Ridge campground. It has electric and it is close to the shower building. This campground also has accessible campsites and play equipment for the disabled and there are several trailheads from this campground that lead to scenic overlooks.

Get To Know Ferne Clyffe State Park

When was Ferne Clyffe State Park founded?
George Rogers Clark and his contingent purportedly passed through or near Ferne Clyffe on their trip to Fort Kaskaskia in 1778. One hundred years later, the Cherokee reportedly used the area as their hunting range while on their Trail of Tears march. Two Cairo brothers purchased a part of the park known today as Hawks’ Cave/Big Rocky Hollow in 1899 and called it Ferne Clyffe because of the ferns that grew in such abundance. The area soon became known for its beauty and was eventually sold to Miss Emma Rebman, a local school teacher and Johnson County school superintendent. Miss Rebman opened the park to the public on Sundays for a 10-cent admission. Ferne Clyffe soon became a popular attraction, and local entrepreneurs began to provide transportation from the Goreville train depot for an additional 10 cents. In 1929, Miss Rebman offered to sell the park to the state of Illinois. Additional efforts by conservation and political groups, such as the Greater Egypt Association and the Illinois Redevelopment Board, resulted in the state’s purchasing it 1949.

frc_waterfallWhat are the most popular activities in the park?
Ferne Clyffe has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot for nearly 100 years. An abundance of ferns, unique geological features and unusual plant communities create an atmosphere that enhances the many recreational facilities offered at the park. Trails wind through picturesque woods, allowing visitors to view fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas. Ferne Clyffe also offers camping, picnicking, hiking, hunting and fishing.

Where is Ferne Clyffe State Park located? What are some other attractions in the area worth checking out?
Ferne Clyffe State Park is located on Illinois Rt. 37, just 1 mile south of Goreville and 12 miles south of Marion, the park is easily accessible from both I-57 (exit 40) and I-24 (exit 7).

Other attractions close by include Garden of the Gods, a US Forest Service area. Also the Cache River Wetland Center a state of the art center with exhibits depicting natural and cultural resources of the Cache River watershed. The area is rich in public lands including IDNR, US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service lands and facilities. Also close by are Winery’s, Antique & Craft businesses and orchards.

What are the campsites like?
Ferne Clyffe has a campground for every type of camper: modern, primitive, youth groups, backpack or equestrian. Shower facilities offered at some campgrounds are available seasonally.
Deer Ridge campground is a well-shaded Class A facility offering gravel pads with electricity, picnic tables and cooking grills. Drinking water, showers, flush toilets and a sanitary dump station complete the setting for campers who prefer to include a few comforts of home with their outdoor adventure.

Turkey Ridge is for campers who want a serene outdoor experience. It is a Class C walk-in campground that includes camp pads, picnic tables, cooking grills and showers. Drinking water and toilets are located near the parking lots. Backpackers enjoying their commune with nature will appreciate the solitude of the individual campsites in the Class C Backpack campground. Located a half-mile from the Turkey Ridge primitive campground parking lot, these woodland sites have cooking grills, toilets and showers. Water and trash receptacles are available at the Turkey Ridge parking lot. You’re reminded to be careful with your fires and to pack out what you pack in.

Ferne-Clyffe State Park also has an equestrian campground. Horseback riders can ride directly to their own Class C Equestrian campground on the trail, or drive to it in their vehicles. Up to 25 riders can be accommodated at the site, which includes picnic tables, drinking water, cooking grills, toilets, parking and showers. The campground is well-shaded by an abundance of trees, and you must protect the trees by tying horses to the hitching rails. No horse rental is available.

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