Beautiful rolling hills and woods surround star-shaped Lake Murphysboro and provide a wonderful backdrop for boating, fishing, picnicking, camping and hiking. This 1,022-acre state park has been used by people since pre-historic Native Americans lived in small, temporary camps and hunted big game. Interest in the area as a public recreational park began in the 1930s with the State of Illinois buying the land for the Division of Fisheries in 1948. The 145-acre lake with 7.5 miles of shoreline was created in 1950 with the creation of a 600-foot dam across Indian Creek. Soon after its completion, Lake Murphysboro was stocked with breeder-size and yearling-size largemouth bass. In the fall of 1951, redear sunfish were introduced, followed by bluegill the next spring. Channel catfish are also frequently stocked. To maintain a healthy fish population, submerged vegetation and water draw downs are used to keep the number of small panfish down. In 1955 the land was transferred to the Division of Parks and Memorials in 1955 and today is maintained as a state park by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Fishing is one of the primary attractions of Lake Murphysboro State Park. Anglers can fish from the bank, on the water, or a handicapped accessible fishing pier. Boaters can bring their own boat or rent one near the boat launch. The outboard motor limit is 10 Horsepower.
There are a number of shaded picnic areas located in convenient locations around the lake. For larger groups there are two shelter houses. There are well-equipped campsites located in scenic areas of the park providing the perfect opportunity for extended stays. There are 54 trailer sites that are equipped with electricity and 20 Class B tent sites. There are three Class A handicapped sites and one Class B/S handicapped site available. A three-mile designated trail offers hikers the opportunity to enjoy the plant, animal and bird life of the park up close. The wooded hills include groves of majestic oak and hickory trees, as well as most other types of trees. Patches of native, wild orchids may be found in the wooded areas of the park. Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Showy, Purple Fringeless, Twayblade, Puttyroot, Coralroot and Ladies’ Tresses are just some of the varieties to watch for. The variety of orchids makes it possible to find blooming plants throughout the year. For those who prefer to explore nature on their own, several paths crisscross through the hills and woods of the park. Lake Murphysboro also includes an archery range located in the northwest section of the park.
For area information and lodging, including motels, cabin, cottage and Bed & Breakfasts contact Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau