Lake Murphysboro State Park


Illinois Department of

Natural Resources
Lake Murphysboro State Park
52 Cinder Hill Drive
Murphysboro, IL 62966
fax 618.687.1220

Rolling hills and woods surround star-shaped Lake Murphysboro, providing a stunning backdrop for boating, fishing, picnicking, camping and hiking. Located in Jackson County, about a mile west of Murphysboro off Route 149, the 1,022-acre park is the perfect place to enjoy the peace and beauty of nature's best.

Built in 1950 by the Division of Fisheries, the 145-acre lake is a tributary of Indian Creek and has a watershed of approximately 4,500 acres. The maximum water depth is 36 feet, and the lake's 7.5-mile shoreline is made up of rolling hills covered with a wide variety of trees. A 600-foot dam is located at the south end of the park. A smaller lake, called Little Lake is located just too the north of Lake Murphysboro.

Recreational Activities

Shaded picnic areas may be found in convenient locations around the lake. For larger groups there are two shelter houses, one with drinking water and playground equipment. Parking areas are available at both shelters. Handicapped-accessible toilet facilities are located in the concession area and in the Big Oak and Shady Rest camping areas. A concession stand near the boat docks offers a variety of supplies and refreshments.

Fishing & Boating
Soon after its completion, Lake Murphysboro was stocked with breeder- and yearling-size largemouth bass. In the fall of 1951, red ear sunfish were introduced, followed by bluegill the next spring. Channel catfish are also frequently stocked. To keep the fish population at good levels submerged vegetation and water draw-downs are used to keep the number of small panfish down. No matter what form of fishing you prefer, you will appreciate the variety of fish available; largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, channel catfish, red ear and crappie
The gentle hills and shady shores make Lake Murphysboro ideal for bank fishing. A fishing pier with facilities for the handicapped is available for anglers. Boaters can bring their own boats or rent one near the boat launch and docks. The outboard motor limit is 10 hp.

Bank and boat fishing are also available on the smaller lake, but no motorboats are allowed.


Well-equipped campsites located in scenic areas of the park provide the perfect opportunity to extend your stay at Lake Murphysboro. Campers who want to truly experience nature will appreciate the 20 tent sites. Those who love nature, but like the comforts of home will prefer the 54 trailer sites that are equipped with electricity. A sanitary disposal station is located near the trailer area.

All campers must obtain a permit from the site superintendent.

A three-mile designated trail offers hikers the opportunity to enjoy the plant, animal and bird life of the park up close. For those who prefer to explore nature on their own, hundreds of paths crisscross through the hills and woods of the park.
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.

An archery range is located in the northeast section of the park.

Archeological evidence for both the Old Woodland and Paleolithic Native American cultures has been uncovered in the park. The Paleo people lived in small, temporary camps and were known as big game hunters. The Woodland culture left more evidence, since it was agricultural and is known for large settlements. By the early 1800s, no Native American settlement remained in the immediate area.

When Illinois was admitted to the Union in 1818, the Federal Government gave Illinois three saline lands. One of them, located less then a mile southwest of the park, was leased to Dr. Conrad Will, who served in both the Illinois House and Senate in the early days of statehood. Dr. Will operated a salt works at the site, and the town of Brownsville grew up around it. The saltworks closed in 1840, and all that remains of the town is a cemetery.

Although the State of Illinois did not purchase the land that would become Lake Murphysboro State Park until 1948, interest in the area as a public recreational park began in the 1930s. Originally developed by the State's Division of Fisheries, Lake Murphysboro State Park was transferred to the Division of Parks and Memorials in 1955. Today, the park is maintained by the Department of Conservation.