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Camping Giant City State Park in Illinois

Giant City State Park Camping, Illinois

Camp Illinois: I’m talking with Calvin Beckmann. He’s the Site Superintendent at Giant City State Park in Illinois. How’s it going today Calvin?

Calvin Beckman: We’re doing very well. Thank you.

CI: So let’s go ahead and start with how long Giant City State Park has been there and how it got started.

Calvin Beckman: Well, it started in 1927 with a donation of about 1100 acres. And since then, it’s grown to a little over four thousand acres.

CI: So, pretty good size Park.

Calvin Beckman: Absolutely. And after the initial donation, the CCC became involved and they constructed a lot of the infrastructure, including a lodge, roads, bridges, trails, and things of that nature.

CI: Okay. So, what are the most popular activities there?

Calvin Beckman: The most popular activities for us would be the hiking and camping.

CI: Okay, let’s talk a little bit about the camping. What kind of sites do you guys have?

Calvin Beckman: We have 86 Class A sites, which include access to a shower house, electric, a grill, and a picnic table at each site, and then we have water shared by several sites.

CI: Okay.

Calvin Beckman: Of course we have a dump station up front.

CI: Oh, perfect, so you can accomodate pretty much anybody that pulls in there.

Calvin Beckman: Absolutely.

CI: So, if I was staying there for the weekend and I kind of wanted to venture out into the local area, what are some other attractions I might want to check out?

Calvin Beckman: Well, in the region, we have the Shawnee Wine Trail. Makanda is a nearby community with local artists and a little boardwalk. Of course, in the park, we have Giant City Stables, where we can do some horseback riding and things like that. Therapeutic training. We also have Giant City Lodge, which is in the Park and it serves a fantastic family-style fried chicken dinner and a full menu as well.

CI: I’m liking the sound of that.


Calvin Beckman: Yes, and they’re actually in the lodge that was built by the CCC in 1936. And they have 36 cabins that are available to rent and it’s a fantastic opportunity. And then, I kind of overlooked it, but we’re actually in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest. So, we are surrounded by the Shawnee, and that would include all of the amenities that come with the Shawnee National Forest, like the Garden of the Gods, Little Grand Canyon, and things of that nature. So, lots of opportunities and, just to the North of us, we have the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge.

CI: Okay. Calvin, if you have a little bit of time off on the weekend, what’s your go-to? Where do you like to spend some time?

Calvin Beckman: Well, my son and I like to go fishing here, in the ponds. So, that’s what we like to do. Just take advantage of the bass fishing and cat fishing, and then we also do the trail hiking. We have approximately 18 miles of hiking trails within the park, and that’s pretty much where we spend our time.

CI: Cool. Two more questions for you. If you could spend only one hour in Giant City State Park, how would you spend your time there?

Photo courtesy of the Illinois DNR
Photo courtesy of the Illinois DNR

Calvin Beckman: I wold stop by the lodge to see the facilities there and see what was constructed by the CCC, so I can really appreciate how hard those guys worked, and then I’d take a hike through the Giant City Nature Trail, which is our namesake – the streets of Giant City – to observe the formations and the streets of Giant City, which are basically a variety of sandstone formations.

CI: Okay, cool, that sounds really interesting. And if you could spend just one night in Giant City State Park, which particular campsite would you choose and why?

Calvin Beckman: Bear with me a second. I would choose number 7, and I just like the seclusion. It’s in a corner. You have the forest on two sides of you, and of course you’re still near the shower house and the facilities, and you have a playground available for the kids. So, those are the kinds of things I look for. When I’m camping, I’m looking to be near the forest, yet not too far away from some of the amenities.

CI: Okay, perfect, that’s exactly the kind of insider info we like to pass on to our visitors. Well, thank you so much, Calvin, for taking some time out of your day to chat with us, and we’ll get this information out right away to our visitors.

Calvin Beckman: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Giant City State Park Website


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