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  Rend Lake - Southern Illinois  

Rend Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area


If you enjoy fishing, picnicking, camping, watching wildlife, swimming, hunting, or other outdoor activities, the 18,900 acres of water and the 20,000 acres of land at Rend Lake provide the ideal setting. Campers are sure to delight in the nearly 800 sites found in five public campgrounds on Rend Lake, providing access to the lake through numerous boat ramps and the Rend Lake Marina.

Beaches, picnicking facilities, and trails provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor fun. Nearby attractions such as the 27-hole championship Rend Lake Golf Course and the Southern Illinois Artisans Shop & Visitors Center provide special recreational opportunities. The Rend Lake Resort complex and the Seasons at Rend Lake Resort provide the ideal lodging facilities to complement lakeside recreation.


Rend Lake is one of over 400 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects located across the United States. The Corps is responsible for the overall management of the lake and the public lands that surround it. Two additional agencies, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Rend Lake Conservancy District, provide vital services to lake visitors and the community.



Campgrounds operated by the Corps of Engineers at North and South Sandusky, South Marcum, and Gun Creek, and by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, offer camping enthusiasts a wide variety of camping experiences. Nearly 800 campsites, ranging from those with modern conveniences, to those with a more rustic appeal, grace the shores of Rend Lake. A campsite reservation program is available for a number of Rend Lake's campsites. Wheelchair accessible campsites are available by reservation for persons with disabilities. Some of the campsites at the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park are open year-round.


The Dale Miller Youth Area located in the South Marcum Recreation Area, provides an ideal setting for group camping activities. Designed primarily for youth groups, but also for other groups, the area features five cabins, an enclosed picnic shelter with a fireplace, 10 RV/trailer sites, a 16-station fitness trail, a private beach, tennis court, basketball court and a baseball/softball field.


Lakeside picnicking facilities are available in numerous locations around Rend Lake. Picnic shelters are available by reservation, or on a first arrival basis and are ideal for family gatherings or company picnics. Most offer a scenic view of the lake and many have fireplaces, electricity and barbecue grills.



Launch your boat from any of the 27 ramps located around the lake, to enjoy some of the finest recreational boating found anywhere. Boaters plying the Rend Lake Waters in bass boats, house boats or personal watercraft are sure to enjoy the nearly 19,000 acres of waters that comprise the lake. Storage docks, marine fuel, boat sales, and boat repair services are available at the Rend Lake marina. Marine fuel is also available at the Rend Lake Resort, along with the courtesy boat slips.


Perhaps the finest crappie fishing lake in Illinois, Rend Lake anglers will also find abundant populations of largemouth bass, white bass, bluegill, and a variety of catfish. Opportunities for bank and boat fishing abound. A fish stocking program operated cooperatively between the Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, helps insure abundant healthy fish populations. Fish shelters made from the yearly harvest of Christmas trees make special fishing holes for many Rend Lake anglers.


Two of the most popular spots on Rend Lake are the clean sandy beaches located at the South Sandusky and North Marcum Recreation areas. With shower and picnic facilities nearby, these areas provide the ideal setting for a day of family fun in the sun.



Your safety while visiting Rend Lake is a prime concern of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Please observe all posted regulations and keep the following tips in mind.

    *Swim only in designated areas.
    *Always wear you life jacket when on or near the water.
    *Remember that alcohol and water sports don't mix. Over 50% of all boating accidents involve alcohol.


Rend Lake hosts numerous educational activities and special events each year. Programs are offered at Corps campgrounds, beaches and the Rend Lake Visitor Center throughout the summer recreational season. Major special events are offered through the partnership of several organizations. A number of educational programs are available to groups by contacting the Rend Lake Project Office.


The Golden Age Passport is available to those 62 and older, for a one time fee of $10. These passports entitle the user to half-price discounts on all recreational use fees at Rend Lake. Golden Access Passports are available to those with permanent physical disabilities and entitle the user to the same discounts.



For many years, Rend Lake has been known as the premier public waterfowl hunting site in Illinois. A comprehensive wildlife management program on nearly 20,000 acres of public lands that surround Rend Lake, provides habitat for waterfowl, upland game and non-game species. Outstanding public hunting areas for deer, quail, rabbits, dove, ducks and geese surround the lake. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers play an important role in managing both hunting and non-hunting wildlife areas at Rend Lake. Numerous boat ramps and parking areas make access easy.


Visitors will find opportunities to explore nature at Rend Lake, on foot, on bicycles or on horseback. Hikers can enjoy several trails at Rend Lake including the Blackberry Nature Trail and a one-mile trail at the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park. Also available at the State Park is a 9 mile-equestrian trail. Bicyclists and hikers can also enjoy a paved one mile trail in the South Sandusky Recreation Area, and a network of paved trails at the North Marcum Recreation Area.


Abundant opportunities are available for those who enjoy watching or photographing wildlife. Rend Lake viewing opportunities are shown in the Rend Lake Guide to Watchable Wildlife. Look for the binocular logo while in the Rend Lake area. Wildlife viewing towers and trails are available in several locations.



The Rend Lake project began as the dream of a group of concerned citizens who in 1955 formed the Rend Lake Conservancy District in an effort to address water supply problems in the area. The formation of this group was preceded by two years of serious drought in the region. The Flood Control Act of 1962 authorized the Corps of Engineers to build a 19,000 acre multi-purpose reservoir to be named Rend Lake. The authorized purposes of the project include flood control on the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers, water supply, water quality control, fish and wildlife conservation, recreation and area redevelopment.

Since 1972 the Rend Lake Conservancy District has operated the Rend Lake Intercity Water System that today provides approximately 300,000 people in more than 60 communities with a water supply. The Conservancy District began expanding operations in 1976 with the addition of a public golf course and restaurant. Other Conservancy District operations include the Rend Lake trap range and hunting preserve and a resort hotel called "Seasons at Rend Lake."


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages the more than three thousand acre Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park at Rend Lake that includes the Rend Lake Resort and a large campground. The agency also manages approximately 12,000 acres of Rend Lake lands and waters for wildlife management purposes, which includes a 5,000-acre waterfowl refuge on the northern end of the lake. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has worked with the Corps of Engineers since planning for the Rend Lake project began. The partnership between the agencies continues today to help provide the best recreational opportunities to visitors, while enhancing the area for wildlife.



Construction of the sixty million dollar Rend Lake project began in June 1965. The initial filling of the reservoir was complete in May 1972. Located on the Big Muddy River, Red Dam is 103.7 river miles from the Mississippi River. The dam creates a lake with a surface area of 18,900 acres at the top of the joint-use pool which is elevation 405 ft. NGVD (National Geodetic Vertical Datum).

Subimpoundment dams were constructed on both of the major tributaries to the lake, approximately 10 miles upstream of Rend Dam. These structures help create an approximately 5,000 acre wildlife management area on the northern end of the lake.

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