CLINTON LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA
If you?re looking for the ideal place to drop your line and catch a record fish, look no farther than Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. Recreational opportunities abound at this 9,300-acre facility, just 3 miles east of Clinton in central Illinois. From picnicking, hiking and camping to swimming, water skiing and boating to hunting for upland game, people from all over the Midwest flock to Clinton Lake to enjoy the great outdoors.
If just relaxing and watching the animal life is your interest, Clinton Lake has various small mammals and nearly 40 species of birds, including osprey, which dive into the lake for fish. In the spring, it is the place to search for morels. In the fall, it is ablaze with a rainbow of color.
The park land actually belongs to AmerGen which operates a nuclear power plant in the area. The State of Illinois has operated the park since 1978 through a long-term lease with the utility company. The partnership demonstrates that the state government and private businesses can work together to provide outstanding recreation.
Prior to the arrival of settlers in the area, the land on which the park rests primarily was upland prairie and bottomland deciduous forest. Historians believe the area likely was the site of small villages and hunting camps of tribes of the Illini Confederacy. Kickapoo also likely were in the area until the 1820?s. The first permanent European-born settlers came to the area in the 1830?s. Many of them came from Kentucky and Tennessee and farmed the land. Most of the area had been used as pasture or cropland at the time construction of the 4,900-acre lake began in the 1970s.
There are 17 Class AA campsites, 286 Class A campsites and 5 Class B/S campsites at Clinton Lake with showers and almost all are adaptable to either tents, trailers or motor homes. Each site is equipped with a grill and picnic table. Reservations are accepted for a limited number of sites by mail only, phone-in reservations are not accepted. All of camping loops H, I, J and K are alcohol free. The wooded area along the lake provides the perfect setting to turn in after a long day of fun. A group camp area for adults or youth groups has room for 75. It provides a secluded wooded setting and has a large shelter with electricity, three RV pads with electrical hookups, toilets, tables, grills and water there are no shower facilities at the group camp area. Portions of the Class AA, A & Class B/S and the group camp are wheelchair accessible. Please reserve the group campground ahead of time by contacting the park office. The shower buildings are closed by November 1st (may be earlier if bad weather) and reopen May 1st (may be earlier - weather depending).
Located close to the swim beach or accessible by car, you will find Mascoutin Grill. This concession, with indoor and outdoor dining, serves sandwiches, beverages, snacks and its ever popular fish dinner. You can also purchase bait, camping supplies and ice. Mascoutin Grill is a seasonal operation open during warm weather.
A beautiful, 1,000-foot white sand beach awaits swimmers and sunbathers looking to catch some rays or frolic in the warm waters of the lake. The beach is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm , 7 days per week, weather permitting. There is a changing facility with showers and restrooms. There are no lifeguards. Please remain in the buoyed areas and swim with caution. No pets, glass, or sharp objects are allowed on the beach. No alcohol is allowed in beach area.
Waterskiing here is a blast and is permitted from the Route 54 bridge to the Route 48 bridge. Beach fees are per day per person. Swimming is also allowed in other areas of the lake but is not allowed within 100 yards of bridges, boat ramps, or boat docks.
The upper arms of the lake are no wake areas and portions are restricted to electric trolling motors only. There are no horsepower limitations in the lake?s main basin, however. Sailboating is popular. When the wind gets up, the lake can be very rough. Small watercraft are urged to stick to the north fork arm of Salt Creek on rough days. There are six public boat ramps and one canoe launch. All IDNR ramps are now equipped with wheelchair accessible boat docks.