Giant City State Park
Open: Open all year
Number of Sites: 124
Number of Sites with Electric: 124
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.
The park is filled with excellent picnic facilities and shelters. Tables, water, fire grills and children’s playgrounds can be found throughout the facility.
Giant City is a popular weekend retreat because of its varied and well-kept campground facilities. There are 85 campsites in the Class A Campground which provides water, electricity, showers and sanitary facilities for tent and trailer camping. The shower building in the Class A site is closed the day after the second shotgun deer season in the winter and re-opens April 1st. There is a separate Class A equestrian campground located off the horse trail in the southwest corner of the park. Camping reservations are NOT taken for Giant City State 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. Outdoor privies, fire ring and access to showers are provided. This campground is closed during shotgun deer season.
A Youth Group camping area is available on a first come, first served basis for organized groups with adult supervision. This area is not reservable.
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.
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!
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.
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