We came to this area for the Memorial Day weekend. It was only about a 3 1/2 hour ride south for us… Granted, just getting around the “shitty” (city = Chicago) takes an hour in itself. We were lucky that the Kickapoo State Park is even open with our state is such debt. Many state campgrounds have closed because of the lack of funds to man them. Sadly, Kickapoo is on this list. I’m glad we got here before the October 1st closing. This one did have a “camp host” opposed to a ranger, which is a family that is allowed to camp at the campground for free in exchange for working at the entrance and taking care of all the daily needs of the campers. Some camp hosts are awesome, some suck. The set here (5/2016) at Kickapoo sucked.
As many may be reading this for the campground information, allow me to elaborate:
Kickapoo State Recreation Area has two major campgrounds for tent and trailer camping, with 184 sites. All of the sites are very large, even the rustic camping. Our electric (30 amp) site cost $25 a night. About half the sites have electrical hookups, two shower buildings and a sanitary dump station is available. Sadly, because of lack of funds, the dump was bubbling full when we pulled away from the line of nine campers behind us waiting to dump. A limited number of walk-in sites are available for primitive campers. The shower buildings are closed by November 1 and reopen May 1. Although I did not use the shower house, it looked clean.
Kickapoo owes its crystal clear ponds and luxuriantly forested ridges and hillsides to the regenerative powers of nature. During the past 50 years, trees and vegetation have reclaimed the former mined land. The state’s 1939 purchase of 1,290 acres of mined lands from United Electric Coal Co. was largely underwritten with contributions collected from Danville area residents.
With twenty-two lakes and access to the Middle Fork River, Kickapoo is known for the opportunities it provides for water-based outdoor activities. Anglers find excellent fishing for large mouth and small mouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie and redear sunfish. Especially popular are the annual fall and spring stockings of rainbow trout, which provide an unusual opportunity for central Illinois anglers to fish for catchable size trout.
There are 12 launching ramps on nine of Kickapoo’s lakes. Boat and canoe rentals are available for Clear Pond. Only electric motors are allowed on the park’s lakes. For people wanting to canoe the scenic Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, a canoe rental and shuttle service is available from Kickapoo Landing.
Hiking the trails within our campground was a treat. The once stark surface mined banks are now covered with a forest of cottonwood, haw, ash and wild cherry. Bald cypresses, introduced along the pond edges, add to the variety in the canopy. A fav of mine, the sycamore, was well represented in the campground, along with having 4 on our site. The trails were single file paths that canvassed the landscape both high and low. We crossed land bridges, looked out over scenic bluffs and let the boys run into the ponds. Oreo was a bit surprised at the fast descending sides of the pond. Two dog steps in was over two feet deep, which is about snoot level for him. He quickly retreated. The deep water ponds were abound with aquatic insects, plants, crustaceans, amphibians and a variety of fish. Our stay corresponded with the cottonwoods blooming and it looked like it was snowing.
I’m not sure if this Google Maps image helps show all the ponds that were available for us to paddle on. Our campsite was #95 and is almost in the center of the photo, right on the bank of Long Pond. The pond was a good 50 feet down a steep embankment. See the photos below for perspective.
Our campsite, #95, Long Pond is directly forward in this photo. A pretty good site, aside from the path going though the back of it. Although the site was very large, folks would walk through very close to our trailer and well within the 20′ long leads my dogs had on. My dogs are friendly, though energetic to meet people. Not all folks are dog people, but then WHY, for all that is holy, would you walk within a dog’s radius than walk 10′ father away and yell at me for having my dog jump on you???!?! People have no sense.
Long Pond is to the left. The path in the previous photo is to the right.
This area was inhabited by the Kickapoo tribe. They later were moved to Kansas.
Kickapoo (Kiikaapoa or Kiikaapoi) which means “Stands here and there,” and “wanderer” which describes their nomadic ways.
Twenty-two deep water ponds, ranging in size from 0.2 of an acre to 57 acres, provide a total of 221 acres of water for boaters, canoeists, scuba divers and anglers.
Long Pond from just a bit down the road from our campsite and one of the many beautiful Bald cypress trees along the pond.
Here is the location of our camper viewed from the Long Pond. You could barely see it. The arrow is pointing to the front, top corner of the trailer. It does blend into the scenery being brown. I think all the scrub growing on the bluff doesn’t allow for perspective of just how high and steep it was.
Yeah, you go first and clear out all the cobwebs.
There’s no current in the ponds, which made it easier to paddle all around.
Don’t dock here!! Blooming poison ivy is on guard here!
All in all, we really enjoyed our stay here, however I can’t not mention the amount of rude campers we experienced here. We’ve both been camping a loooong time and we’ve never seen this many together, I swear it was a “Bad Camper” convention! From unleashed dogs, doggie land mines, 24/7 barking, large fires, loud music, loud drunk folks (although it’s supposed to be a dry campground), speeding, brutalizing trees, public urination, cars parked willy-nilly, excessive lighting, walking thru our site and to ice the cake, someone setting up a tent on OUR campsite! We were told that it was such a big site, we should be able to share…. Host actually agreed with them and rather than get kicked out, we dropped subject. How F-ing rude IMO.
We’d come back if by some miracle they are open in the future. We have a better site scoped out for our next visit. One where there’s no paths going thru it!
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl