Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area - Carlyle

It seems appropriate for one of the largest campgrounds in the Illinois state park system to be located on the largest manmade lake in Illinois. Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area is a 3,000-acre site on the west shore of Carlyle Lake, a Kaskaskia River impoundment. The site is located 3 miles north of Carlyle and 2 miles east of Illinois Route 127.

It is named for a Carlyle attorney who organized the Kaskaskia Valley Association. Eldon Hazlet was the first president of the organization, which promoted construction of two of Illinois’ three largest reservoir/recreational complexes - Carlyle Lake and Lake Shelbyville - plus other improvements on the Kaskaskia River.

Annually, more than 800,000 visitors come to the park to camp, boat, fish, hunt, picnic, swim, bird watch and to hike over 9 miles of trails in the park, or attend the sailboat regattas held almost every summer weekend. Whatever type of recreation you choose, it’s probably offered at Carlyle Lake.

Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area is probably best known for its camping facilities. The Illini Campground has 328 Class A campsites with 30 and 50 amp electrical hook-ups, 36 Class C campsites for walk-in tent camping and two rustic rent-a-cabins. Seven Class A campsites are accessible to individuals in wheelchairs. The campground occupies almost 1 1/2 miles of the Carlyle Lake shoreline, and most of the campsites are within easy reach of the water. Many campers keep their boats in the coves located along the campground.

Three shower buildings are located in the campground, plus numerous privy toilets. Recreational amenities include several sets of playground equipment, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, an amphitheater, and hiking trails. Plenty of parking is available for vehicles and boat trailers. To register for a campsite see one of the campground hosts or a site security officer.

The Eldon Hazlet Campground Store, located at the entrance to the Illini Campground, is a 2,000 square foot store with contains groceries, camping and fishing supplies, clothes, live bait, ice and fire wood. A public laundry room and outdoor patio are also available.

For more information: Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area

South Shore State Park - Carlyle

South Shore is a 3-mile-long park that is situated on the lake's southeast side, approximately 3 miles east of the city of Carlyle on Illinois Route 50.

Managed to preserve its natural and cultural resources, the park also provides recreational opportunities, including small-boat access, five day-use areas for picnicking, a 3/4-mile hiking trail, as well as outstanding bank-fishing opportunities. Observing wildlife, especially white-tailed deer and wild turkey, is another popular activity.

South Shore State Park is host to many wildlife species. In addition to deer, the park is inhabited by red foxes, raccoons, squirrels, woodchucks, quail, doves and songbirds, including bluebirds. Bluebird boxes, other nest structures have been placed throughout the park. Local wildlife populations also benefit from the restoration of native prairie grasses throughout the park. More than 200,000 waterfowl stop at the lake on their migratory travels north and south each winter. Along with waterfowl, other types of birds commonly seen at the park include herons and egrets, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors.

Roads wind through the park to various access points and to five day-use areas, which are well equipped with tables and grills. Crappie Cove picnic area has a first-come, first-serve shelter to accommodate family reunions and other gatherings. Water fountains and toilet facilities are conveniently located. There is no concession stand.

In addition to the conveniences featured at South Shore State Park, most Carlyle Lake visitors will want to look into the facilities, such as several other campgrounds, boat access areas, swimming beaches and other facilities around the lake.

For more information: South Shore State Park

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