Home | Getting Started | Gift Center | Gear Store | Topo Maps | My Wildernet | Newsletter Signup
STATE:
ACTIVITY:
SEARCH:
Illinois > Illinois State Parks > Giant City State Park
Activity Locator:

Giant City State Park




Giant City State Park Customized Topo Maps and Aerial Photos
Outdoor Gear and Clothing

Search by Name within Illinois:



Trip Planner

Hotels Airline Tickets Car Rentals
B&Bs Yellow Pages City Guide


General Information

Description - *This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*

With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Carbondale is sure to delight visitors of all ages. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. Visitors will marvel at the many wilderness trails, and a sure treat awaits anyone hiking the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the “Giant City Streets” formed 12,000 years ago by huge bluffs of sandstone.

Nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, just minutes south of Carbondale, the area was named for the unique impressions made by its massive sandstone structures. Eons of geological faulting and folding have molded a landscape like none other, which is now clothed in lush garments of fern, moss, large flowering mints, hundreds of species of wild flowers and 75-plus varieties of towering trees. The natural splendor of Giant City has made it a renowned retreat that attracts more than 1.2 million visitors annually.

History- Shelter bluffs, or rock shelters, worn into the sides of the cliffs have revealed evidence of human habitation in this region from as early as 10,000 years ago, and the blackened ceilings caused by their fires are still visible today. On an 80-foot sandstone cliff near the main entrance, one can see the remains of a Native American stone wall that was erected between A.D. 600-800.

The first European settlers moved into the area from Kentucky and Tennessee in the early 1800s, and by 1850, settlers were using the land to cultivate fruit trees. During the Civil War, many of the cliffs and canyons were used as havens by soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies.

By the early 1900s, many biologists, geologists and visitors had become intrigued with the region for study and relaxation. It provided ample opportunity for both.

In 1927, the State of Illinois acquired more than 1,100 acres of land in Union and Jackson counties and dedicated the area as Giant City State Park. In 1936, the Civilian Conservation Corps completed construction of a lodge and 12 overnight cabins on the highest point in the park. Today, the park has grown to encompass 4,000 acres of spectacular countryside and the 110-acre Fern Rocks Nature Preserve.

An 82-foot, 100,000 gallon water tower was constructed in 1970 to feature a 50-foot observation deck that provides panoramic views of large expanses of the area. In 1999, a 4,725-square-foot Visitor Center was completed. The new facility houses exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the park, as well as a gift shop, audio-visual room, and a discovery corner for children.

Attractions - Lodging- The rustic beauty of the Giant City Lodge creates an atmosphere that is unparalleled in southern Illinois. Although the lodge has been expanded and remodeled, great care has been taken to preserve the multi-hued sandstone and the white oak timber used in the initial construction in the 1930s. Many original furnishings and decorations have been restored and are still in use throughout the lodge.

Three types of cabins offering forest views are available to accommodate overnight guests. All have unique features and have been restored. Twelve historic cabins are one-room units; 18 prairie cabins are two-room units; and four bluff cabins, the largest and most scenic, can conveniently house a family of six.

The Bald Knob dining room, with seating for 170, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and has a reputation for excellent food at a reasonable price. It is especially well known for its family-style, home-fried chicken.

The lodge also features a gift shop, cocktail lounge and bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a children’s pool.

For lodge reservations, call (618) 457-4921, or write Giant City Lodge, 460 Giant City Lodge Road, Makanda, IL 62958. The Giant City Lodge is closed each year from early December to mid-February.

Camping- Giant City is a popular weekend retreat because of its varied and well-kept campground facilities. Its Class A campgrounds provide water, electricity, showers and sanitary facilities for tent and trailer camping. There is a separate Class A equestrian campground located off the horse trail in the southwest corner of the park.

A Class C camping area with 14 walk-in sites at the south end of the family campground is available for those who prefer a more primitive setting. Water, outdoor privies, and access to showers are provided. A Youth Group camping area is available on a first come, first served basis for organized groups with adult supervision.

A Class C camping area with 14 walk-in sites at the south end of the family campground is available for those who prefer a more primitive setting. Water, outdoor privies, and access to showers are provided. A Youth Group camping area is available on a first come, first served basis for organized groups with adult supervision.

Recreation - Picnicking- The park is filled with excellent picnic facilities and shelters. Tables, water, fire grills and children’s playgrounds can be found throughout the facility.

Hiking- Exploration of the picturesque natural wonders of Giant City State Park can be enjoyed along the Post Oak, Devil’s Standtable, Giant City, Stonefort, Indian Creek, Trillium and Arrowwood trails. The Post Oak Trail has been specially designed for disabled visitors. The 12-mile Red Cedar Hiking Trail provides an invigorating challenge to the truly dedicated backpacker. Hiking trails

Rock Climbing/Rappelling- Climbing and rappelling are permitted at the park in two locations. The areas of Devil's Standtable cliff and Shelter #1 bluff at the Makanda entrance are accessible to climbers, and ropes are permitted on these cliffs. Climbers should bring their own equipment and go directly to the bluff. No permanent anchors allowed. No check-in is necessary. All climbing activities at the park are conducted at your own risk. Cliffs are steep, sandstone can be slippery when wet, and protected venomous copperhead snakes are found on sunny ledges, please use caution. Southern Illinois sandstone bluff plant communties are fragile, so tread lightly in these areas. Always carry out what you carry in!

Horseback Riding- Giant City Stables

For the equestrian, the park has two options. If you’re bringing your own horses we have a Class A Equestrian Campground and a 12-mile loop trail that are open from May 1 to October 31 each year. All 25 campsites have electricity, hitching posts, and access to water and showers. The fee is $15.00 per night per site. Use of the sewage dump station at the main campground is permitted. The camp is located on the south end of the park. Follow the signs found throughout the park and site personnel will write you a camping permit at your campsite. At the back of the campground is a trailer parking area for day users. There is no charge for day use of the horse trail. Trail maps and information are available at the Visitors Center from 8AM - 4PM daily.

For horse enthusiasts without their own horses, the park offers guided rides. Giant City Stables is located in the park. They have an abundance of daily trail rides, in addition to summer camps and lessons. Weather permitting, the stables are open from March 15 to October 31 each year. Please call 618-529-4110 for more information about the stables, which is closed on Tuesdays.

Fishing and Boating- Ponds are located throughout the park for bank fishing. Little Grassy Lake on the east side of the park, owned by the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge, has a boat launching ramp and provides anglers with opportunities to land largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie. Boats are limited to 10 horsepower motors. The lake also is ideal for canoeing. For further information, contact Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, at (618) 997-3344.

Hunting- Hunting for some wildlife species is allowed at Giant City on a controlled basis. Contact the site superintendent for details on season times and area rules. Proper registration rules are strictly enforced.

Climate - Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.

Location - From Carbondale, take Highway 51 south 12 miles to Makanda and follow signs to the park.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

No trip reports filed to date. Please be the first one to do so!


More Information

Contact Information:
Giant City State Park, 235 Giant City Road , Makanda, Illinois, 62958, Phone: 618.457.4836
, R5Parks@dnrmail.state.il.us

Additional Information:
Illinois State Parks -
Southern Illinois Travel Region -

Links:
Giant City State Park - Official site for Giant City State Park

Advertisement





About Wildernet |  Email to a Friend  |  Disclaimer |  Privacy |  Contact Us  | Comments & Suggestions
Advertisers & Sponsors |  Owners & Operators |  Tourism Promotors
©1995-2017 Interactive Outdoors Inc. All rights reserved.