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Carlyle Lake, ILLINOIS
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Best COE to date

Clean. Friendly staff. Beautiful area

Best COE campground

Very, very clean. Beautiful area. Friendly staff

Nice

We just stayed one night so didn’t take advantage of most of the amenities but very nice people, clean sites. Sites a little close but overall we would stay again.

Fish and camp on Rend Lake

One of the first campgrounds that you come to at Rend Lake when you get off the highway, this campground has lots of positives and few negatives. Among the positives is that this is a large campground with two loops and two spurs for camping. It didn’t seem to matter where your site was, each was fairly small, on top of each other, and lacking the privacy I like when tent camping. That being said, every site has electric (a plus), and every site looked well maintained. There are quite a few sites on the lake or with lake views, and these seemed to be the most coveted sites. My site was on the lake with a down slope reaching down to the tent/picnic pad (a concern if it was going to rain hard), and littered with sweet gum balls that had not been swept up yet. However, I had plenty of space at my site (#79) to spread out and relax. It was pretty neat to look at the exposed roots of trees along the shore, erosion at work. Not far from the campground is a picnic area and the boat launch. One of the down sides is that you can clearly hear the highway from the campground, and of course if you have a lake site, you will have plenty of boat noise. Speaking of boats, most people seemed to be fishing. The campground does not have a fish cleaning station in it but up near the golf course (you drive past it to get to the campground) there is an almost new looking fish cleaning station.

Great lake views here

I tried to camp here in the primitive tent area, however the primitive campground was closed and I could not find anyone who could tell me when or if it would reopen. There was a sign stating it was closed in October due to staffing issues. So I took a drive through the Class A campground just to see it. Here’s what I discovered: the primitive section is far removed from the Class A (by a mile or two). The Class A section is HUGE! There were several loops and spurs, including one set aside for volunteers only and one that was for Reserve America only (I’ve never seen that before). I am guessing that the primitive section has some lake access or views like the Class A section does (and the lake views are great!). Looks like a burn was done recently to clear out brush and fall leaves along the backs of a couple of loops.  There is a bike trail that seems to go throughout the park but is in pretty bad shape. I would not use a good bike on this and would bring some patches and spare tubes. All sites had the requisite picnic tables and fire rings. There were two campground host sites, but no one seemed on duty to answer my questions. All of the spring flowers were blooming in the woods along the bike trail, which was nice to look at as I bounced down the lanes.

Tent/RV/lake

Great camping, usual campground with clean facility's. My family & i enjoy the lake for fishing , boating,swimming & beach time! Close to town for the forgotten marshmallows! Amazing sunsets over beautiful Rend lake!

Lakeside camping

Ranger Review Primus LiTech Trek Kettle at Dam West Campground

Campground Review

What a great campground on the shore of Carlyle Lake! Right next to the marina and with many sites right on the lake, you can’t go wrong here. Sites looked a bit more level on the inside of the loop than the lakeside sites, but I guess that’s the price you pay for real estate. My site was not the most level, but only steps from the beach with a few trees that might work for hammocking. The site was really clean and had plenty of space, with a nice paved parking pad, fire pit, picnic table, and electric hook up (all sites have electric!). Across the drive was a nice amphitheater and playground and a basic bathroom. The fairly clean shower house for the whole campground is up near the entrance (it also has a laundry room, but I did not check it out). The campground host for this summer is super nice and is likely to visit for a bit as he buzzes around on his scooter. There is a bike path that goes right past the campground that was busy all weekend with bikers, runners, and walkers, and takes you from the shower house to the marina in just a short walk.

Gear Review

Primus LiTech Trek Kettle As a Ranger for The Dyrt, from time to time I get new gear to review. On this camping trip I tested out the Primus LiTech Trek Kettle. I have to say, this may be my new favorite cooking pot. It is the perfect size for one person (which works well as I frequently camp solo). I used it to heat up some frozen chili for dinner and then used it again in the morning to heat water for oatmeal. Here’s what I liked:

  • The kettle holds just a bit more than a liter of water (or chili), which is about all you need to make coffee, heat large single servings of food, or just about anything
  • It’s non-stick, so clean-up is a breeze and doesn’t retain odors
  • The handles fold out and are easy to grip, and fold around the pot for easy out of the way storage
  • Its super light weight (perfect for backpacking)
  • Even though it was taller than wide, water heated up in it very quickly
  • My little fuel canister fits inside perfectly with almost no rattling
  • Primus included a nice carrying bag that fits the pot and has a small bit of room to spare Here’s what baffled me:
  • The lid doubles as a tiny nonstick frying pan. But it is big enough for maybe one egg. It is so small that I am not exactly sure what you could make in it. I understand the desire to make the lid “usable”, but maybe a regular lid with a colander built in would have been more useful.
  • The lid is not a great fit, and when packing up for storage, it kept sliding off.

Despite the weird frying pan lid, I am really happy with the LiTech Kettle. It meets all of my needs in a lightweight package. It is easy to clean up, packs small, has good handles, and is a great addition to my camp cooking arsenal.

Dark sky, great stargazing

This is a small lake management by the state of Illinois. The campground is usually not crowded, but some weekends do get busy. There is a shower/bathroom that was clean each time we were there. Water and electric is available at most sites. The campground is pretty far from any big metro area, so the sky was real dark, great for picking out constellations. We listened o Whip-por-will calls around the campfire.

Beautiful family campground

Family friendly atmosphere, big inground pool, 18 hole putt putt, lots of outdoor games, planned activities on the weekends, shaded sites, and air conditioned cabins! This place is a campers dream with great staff always happy to see you.

This is our camping spot!

I love camping at Rend Lake. More specifically, South Sandysky campground. It is clean, the shower houses are immaculate. It’s always fully stocked and clean. The beach isn’t littered with trash. It’s always a wonderful, relaxing experience every time.

Not good!

Not very well maintained by the State of Illinois. Restrooms are horrible! So many better places to camp in the Carlyle Lake area.

Hickory - Site 99

The Corps of Engineers campgrounds at Rend Lake are very well kept and a safe bet for a weekend away. Showers are clean, bathrooms all “flush”.

Campsite sizes vary, but all are reasonably spaced.

Nice Lake, Not so great campground

We reserved here last minute for Memorial Day weekend, 2018. That said, we couldn't be choosy when it came to getting a site and we ended up with Site 8. It was literally on a culvert pipe on top of the ditch. Luckily we were camping with 3 other families a little ways down the campground so we did everything at their sites 11, 12, and 13, which were pretty spacious. Those were right along the trail down to the lake, so we were able to kayak nearby and it was a short walk to fish on the lake.

There are no restrooms, only pit toilets, so obviously no showers. The campground was pretty quiet for a holiday weekend so that was nice. The playground equipment was a short bike ride down the road, but right in the sun mid day so the equipment was too hot for the kids to play on until evening.

When I checked the info for the campground on ReserveAmerica, it said that it had a beach on the lake, but when we arrived we discovered there was no longer a beach. The lake was beautiful to kayak on though, lots of little fingers to explore and see the wildlife.

Overall not bad because we came with family, but would've been sorely disappointed if that wasn't the case. Probably won't be back

Location is king

No frills here. But everything you need. 30/50 amp, water, sewer. I was very skeptical, so naturally I booked 3 nights. Fully fenced, police very close. Never once felt unsafe.

Downsides. Kinda noisy. Kinda bright at night (I’ll take it for the safety) No privacy (no trees)

Very worth the stay. Great location. People very nice.

Corps of Engineers

Great campground well maintained. Expertly managed

Lots of trees, shades, great campsites, friendly hosts and clean facilities

This campground qualifies for the senior pass for reduced rates. It is directly on Carlyle Lake, ,the largest lake in Illinois. It has activities for children on the weekends. The campsites have sewer and water on some sites, as well as other sites with electricity available. There are a lot of mature trees in the campground that provides plenty of shade int he summer. Many of the sites are blacktopped and large RV's will fit on the sites. There is a beach very near the campground that is within walking distance. There are also pools located near to the campground that can be used by the public.

Lots of room

This is not a typical KOA. The spaces were large and roomy. Showers and bathroom were very nice, too. We didn’t use any of the other amenities because we were just passing through.

Archway RV Park

Great place to stop for the night! Clean, reasonable and the staff/owners were great!!! Would stay again! Easy on and off to 64 and 57!!! Sonic, Subway and Tractor Supply Co a short walk away! Building a Japanese Steak House across the street. Oh, and there is an ice dispenser machine on the premises.

If you're military this is the place to go.

This campground is clean and convenient to the St Louis area. The Outdoor Recreation unit is very responsive to needs of campers. The nearby lake is scenic and peaceful. The campground has occasional airplane noise but it's not bad for a Air Base.

Could have been great

We were really looking forward to this camp out but it didn't deliver. The sites are not clearly marked at all, you just kind of pull into the grass somewhere by a power pole. No sewer hookup, but there is a dump station. The grass was cut and there were picnic tables and fire rings sporadically left around the grassy areas. This would be great for a group of tents, not so much a camper. The park had just remodeled and updated their bath/shower houses right before we camped, but someone had vandalized/burned up the inside by the time we got there. So there were no bathrooms. There were showers available at the city pool in the park, but only during pool hours. The little toot railroad which the city touts was closed- the tressles were rotted and torn out of the tracks. So that was disappointing. In short, not much to do, and the bathrooms were a let down, but the camp was quiet and peaceful- and there was a Walmart close by for supplies.

Great family campground

We LOVE Hazlet! We have a popup camper and camp here often. It's a huge campground with a smaller reservable section and an extensive first come, first serve section. There are usually always spaces available. Sites are pretty level, are gravel, wooded, and spacious. There are several 'loops'' of sites that extend out and have water views. The shower houses are clean and air conditioned, there's a nice camp store that serves breakfast and basic lunches, and there is a nice large zero entry pool for a $5 fee on weekends. The campground hosts are sprinkled througout the grounds and are always friendly and accommodating. They have a huge Halloween event every year where people decorate their sites (pretty extensively) and there's a haunted house, then kids trick or treat from site to site. The campground also provides pumpkin painting contests and other fun activities. Better get there at least a week in advance for the halloweeen festivities- it fills up!

Nice spot just off the interstate

This is my camping spot of choice when visiting starved rock state park. They have great walk in camp grounds only a couple hundred yards from your car! Makes for a more secluded feel but everything you need is only a short walk away!

Bring a boat!!

My wife and I stayed at this campground for two nights along our cross-country road trip. We wanted to hit up a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game and this campground was close enough. We were there during the weekday so there was barely anybody around. The lake is enormous and there are plenty of fishing access points including a large dock so bring a boat!!

First to Review
Super nice, campsites

Great rates and even better campsites. We got there late and had no problems finding a great campsite right next to the lake.

Picture perfect

Full hookups to tent camping and spacious sites. This is a Corps of Engineer Campground so bring your America the Beautiful pass! Well maintained on beautiful Rend Lake in southern Illinois. Reservations accepted on reservation.gov. Walk ins also welcome.

relaxing place

this is where we have camped the most. there is very little cell service so it is a great place to be unplugged and enjoy time with friends and family!

We loved it!

We booked this on the road, and even though the office was closed, a site had been reserved and marked for us. Owner came out early the next morning to check on us, and refund our overpayment (due to lack of exact funds) Very sweet owners!

First to Review
Conveniently located.

Very convenient off the interstate, but also noisy due to the interstate being right there. Small park, quite a few permanent residents. This was a simple stop over for us, but it served the purpose.

Lake, wilderness, always clean bath houses

We camp here every summer with my sons shooting team. Huge campground with a lake to boat, kayak or fish from the bank. Quiet but can be dry and hot in the summer. Fun place to gather with friends.