Illinois is rich in state parks for field trips. All types of outdoor activities are available, including skiing, hiking, fishing, camping, boating and wildlife viewing. Groups of 25 or more visiting state parks to picnic or frolic must register with the site office ahead of time. Pets must be on leashes, and one adult must be with each group of 15 minors.
General Information about Illinois State Parks
State park picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis or by reservation, so it's best to reserve one in advance; the reservation fee is $25 as of 2009. Park hours vary, so check the websites of the parks you want to visit or call the parks directly. Illinois state fishing and hunting regulations apply in all parks. Some parks have concessions.
Jim Panther State Fish and Wildlife Area
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area (JEPC) is located in west-central Illinois. The park comprises grassland, forest and agricultural habitats. It provides an excellent opportunity to teach children about the environment and allow them to see rare Illinois plant species, as well as breeding birds, wild turkeys, pheasants, hawks and deer. The park's 20 miles of hiking trails vary in elevation.
Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area
10149 County Hwy. 11
Chandlerville, llinois 62627
Shabbona Lake is an Illinois State Recreation Area located west of Chicago off U.S. Highway 30. This park has a 150-site campground with flush toilets and showers. All sites have electricity, a fire ring, access for cars or recreational vehicles and a picnic table. Dump stations and handicapped-accessible sites are available. Some sites allow reservations, and some are first come, first served. The park also has two cabins that sleep up to six people. In winter, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and ice skating are popular. School classes may help with prairie burns in the spring.
Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
4201 Shabbona Grove Rd.
Shabbona, Illinois 60550