Campground Review: Pere Marquette SP, IL

Dates: September 5-7, 2015

Campsite: 12

Overall Score: 4.22 (out of 5)

Summary: Pere Marquette State Park is Illinois’ largest park, covering more than 8000 acres. A nature lover’s paradise, it offers a wide variety of activities in and around the park.

Site 12, Pere Marquette Campground
Site 12, Pere Marquette Campground

Recreation/Amenities: 4.7

There are 10 hiking trails covering a total of 12 miles. They range from easy to difficult and some have scenic bluff views of the Illinois River.   For the less ambitious, there is a scenic drive through the park. For the more ambitious, there is rock climbing on the bluffs. There are several cabins, a lodge (with indoor swimming pool and weight room), and a restaurant (get the fried chicken) all built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Visitor Center has a 3-D map of the park along with displays and exhibits concerning the Illinois River, wildlife habitat, local history and geology. There are 2 rustic cabins that can be rented in the campground and there’s a boat ramp for Illinois River access.

Saddle Up!
Saddle Up!

Hookups & Connectivity: 3 – electric only, with dump station. Water source is located in the camping area, but not at individual campsites. No Wi-Fi. There is supposed to be Wi-Fi at the lodge, but we couldn’t pick up a signal.

Local Vicinity Things to Do: 4.9 

Where to begin? Let’s see…you can go to the Illinois and/or Mississippi Rivers to go boating, fishing, cruising, parasailing, or take a ferry ride. Nearby you’ll find some of the best bald eagle watching anywhere along the Great River (during the winter). There’s also hunting on 5,000 acres of public land and a 20-mile bike trail to Alton. There’s also horseback riding, a mystery dinner, Eckert’s apple orchard, golfing, and the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site and Conveyance Tower. You can head to Grafton for shopping, wineries, and riverfront dining. On top of all that, there’s zip lining nearby and the Raging Rivers Water Park. And, of course, you can take a very scenic 40-minute drive to St Louis for all that it has to offer.

Cleanliness: 4.3 – average cleanliness. Not pristine, but no major issues.

Nesting Intincts
Nesting Instincts Kick In

Intangibles: 4.2

Pros – Campground has shade trees and most sites are level. Lil Jan and her nesting instinct were immediately drawn to the eagle’s nest at the Visitors Center.

Cons – Campground sites have adequate spacing, but minimal natural barriers between them. No cell phone service in the park. $32.50/night was a tad higher than the average state park we’ve visited. A person familiar with the lodge rooms and cabins said they were “starting to show their age” although we didn’t get a look inside them.

Bottom-line: this is a large, beautiful park with a ton of things to do both in the park and in the vicinity.

Big Steve

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