Illini State Park is the type of park you think of when you think of big picnics and family gatherings. With its rustic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings and riverside picnic areas, Illini State Park offers beautiful views and a sense of history not found in many other parks.
Hickory, ash, walnut, elm, cottonwood, oak and maple trees provide shady coolness in the summer and beautiful colors in the fall. Spring is highlighted by blooming wildflowers, White-tailed deer, squirrels, opossums, beavers, raccoon, groundhogs and a variety of waterfowl and songbirds can be seen throughout the year at Illini State Park.
Scattered throughout the park are picnic areas and shelters with tables, outdoor grills, drinking water, toilets and playgrounds. Several of the shelters also have working fireplaces.
There is something for every type of camper at Illini State Park. Both tent and trailer sites, including electric and sanitation service, are offered and some of the sites offer breathtaking views of the river. A youth area is available for youth groups. Camping reservations can be made online at www.reserveamerica.com
Boating and Fishing
Anglers will find ample supplies of crappie, bass, bluegill, catfish, carp, bullheads and many other species in the Illinois River. A boat ramp is available for visitors' boats. Although there is no motor limit on the Illinois River, boaters should be aware of the danger of barge traffic and the close proximity of the Marseilles Lock and Dam.
Illini State Park is the perfect place for winter fun. An ice skating pool and hills ideal for sledding provide hardy outdoor enjoyment. A shelter offers a comfortable setting for warming fingers and toes after a winter workout.
Several reminders of America's Industrial Age can be seen at Illini State Park. The area is part of an old glacial feature called the Marseilles Moraine and is underlaid by 100 feet of coal. A large coal mine one mile south of the park supplied coal to Marseilles industries until World War II. The Illinois Traction System, an interurban electric transit system that ran from Chicago to Princeton, was one of those industries. Less than a mile north of the park is the historic Illinois-Michigan Canal, completed in 1848 when the section from Marseilles to Morris opened.
In the mid-1920s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a barge canal, and visitors can watch as large barges pass and through the Marseilles Locks.
The prestigious Marsatawa Country Club once graced the east end of the park. Organized by Ottawa resident W.D. Boyce, who also founded the Boy Scouts of America, the club boasted one of the premier golf courses of its day. In the 1930s, two companies of the Civilian Conservation Corps converted the golf course to a park and constructed buildings still in use today.
The CCC camp at the west end of the park was converted into a semi-correctional boys' camp that provided maintenance in the park until it was closed in the late 1960s.
Illini entered the state park system in 1934 and was dedicated in 1935.
Hikers will enjoy exploring the park and its many scenic and historic offerings. Open fields, a baseball diamond and numerous horseshoe pits provide additional recreational opportunities. A concession stand has food and drink in the warmer months.
- While groups of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities, they are required to register in advance with the site office to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
- At least one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must be kept on leashes at all times.
- Actions by nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
- We hope you enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.