As you explore the Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area, you may be reminded of the Deep South. The charm of bald cypress, tupelo gum, swamp cottonwood trees and wild lotus makes the recreational activities at the site even more enjoyable.
Located in Alexander County just east of Illinois Route 3, 7 miles north of Cairo, the 10,200 acre area includes a 2,400 acre shallow lake. In addition to taking in the beauty of the natural features of the area, visitors enjoy picnicking, camping, boating, fishing and hunting.
The first 49 acres of the park were purchased by the Department of Conservation in 1927 for development as a Canada goose sanctuary. Additional tracts of land, including Horseshoe Island, create the State Fish & Wildlife Area that greets visitors today.
With its large stands of trees around its 20 mile shoreline, Horseshoe Lake is a beautiful body of water. Since 1930, when a concrete, fixed spillway was constructed, the lake has maintained a constant 4-foot depth.
Horseshoe Island, Horseshoe Lake and all areas not designated for public hunting are used to maintain waterfowl populations. A variety of food requirements are met by producing green pasture and grain crops in the refuge. Research programs, including banding, provide important information about the waterfowl. More than 50,000 birds have been trapped, banded and released through the years at Horseshoe Lake.
Bald cypress, tupelo gum and swamp cottonwood trees surround Horseshoe Lake and create spectacular scenery. Flora and fauna normally found in swampland much further south thrive in this setting. Visitors during fall and winter see large populations of waterfowl and bald eagles. Spring and summer guests will enjoy the vibrant colors of the foliage. Some of the most beautiful blooms are found on red buckeye shrubs in April and wild lotus in June.
Native southern hardwood forests are abundant, and two large, undisturbed tracts have been dedicated as Illinois Nature Preserves. These preserves are open to visitors, but also are used for scientific research and education.
Complete your visit to the "South" with a picnic at one of the four picnic areas located around the park. Each site includes picnic tables, park stoves and parking. Visitors with children might appreciate the playground located at the picnic area near the spillway.
With all the beautiful view and recreational activities at Horseshoe Lake to choose from, you may wish to stay a few days to experience them all. There are 38 Class A camping sites with electricity and showers, 40 Class B/E camping sites with electricity only, and 10 Class C sites available for overnight guests.
- 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
- 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.
- For more information
on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community
Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
- Telecommunication Device
for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175
for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.