Watch Now: Camping is a Southern Illinois natural | Local News


The Southern’s sixth segment of “The Southern Illinois 100,” items that are synonymous with Southern Illinois.






Compile any list of the things that make our region special and a common theme becomes apparent: the great outdoors runs throughout the list like a stream winding through the hills and woods of Southern Illinois.

The Southern’s list of the iconic places, symbols and happenings of our region is full the great outdoors. We have already highlighted the Cache River and the Crab Orchard Natural Wildlife Refuge, wildlife ranging from whitetail deer to armadillos and outdoors activities including exploring Little Grand Canyon and mushroom hunting.

Perhaps there is no better way to really get into the great outdoors than spending the night. Southern Illinois is a camper’s paradise.

“There are literally thousands of campsites around Southern Illinois, ranging from primitive sites in the Shawnee National Forest to modern sites overlooking beautiful vistas as places like Rend Lake and Lake Murphysboro,” longtime Southern Illinoisan staff member and outdoors writer Les Winkeler said. “There are campgrounds where you can enjoy solitude and others where you’ll have plenty of neighbors to keep you company.”

Camping spots come in a wide range of settings and styles in Southern Illinois, explained Carol Hoffman of Southernmost Illinois Tourism.



Emmalyn Flemmings, 8, of Rosiclare, practices gymnastics outside her family’s camper at the Nine Day Trail Ride in rural Pope County.  




“We have a variety of different camping opportunities depending on skill, comfort and what people are looking for; everything from rugged backpacking in the wilderness of the national forest to well-developed camp sites with amenities and more,” she said.

Hoffman said primitive campsites can be found with little more than level ground to pitch a tent – quite different than the drive-through campsites with full hookups for electricity, water and sewer service for modern recreational vehicles.

“There are plenty of full-service and year-round campgrounds that can handle the big-rig RV setups and then there also are campgrounds that specifically cater to horses,” she added.

Southern Illinois campgrounds were one sector that has done well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, camping is a great way to be socially distant, Winkeler explained.

“If anything, the pandemic has made camping more popular,” he said. “The issue I the past year hasn’t been finding a campsite you like, but at times the issue has been finding a campsite period,” he said.

Camping – and more of the icons of our region – can be discovered in the Southern Illinois 100 online at www.thesouthern.com.



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