Kickapoo State Recreation Area

10906 Kickapoo Park Road
217-442-4915

History

Kickapoo State Recreation Area and the surrounding area have a long and rich cultural history. Archaeological excavations have provided evidence of a prehistoric village on the Middle Fork River near the park that was home to Native Americans of the Woodland and Mississippian cultures between A.D. 500 and 1500.

A Kickapoo village was located at the confluence of the Middle Fork and Salt Fork rivers. It was in this village that Kennekuk, the "Kickapoo Prophet" lived.

Kennekuk became a religious leader espousing a modified form of Christianity that incorporated elements of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. A staunch advocate of temperance, Kennekuk became a mediator between local Native Americans and European settlers. He was a signer of several Indian treaties with the United States.

European settlers were drawn to the area by the presence of salt springs, called salines, which were discovered in 1819. Wells were dug to obtain salt brine, which was then boiled down to obtain salt. The salt works were operated by a variety of operators until 1848, producing at the height of operation about 120 bushels of salt per week. One of the original iron rendering kettles can be seen in a small memorial at Salt Kettle Rest Area on I-74.

Among the early settlers in the area were John Cox, Indian fighter and scout during the Black Hawk War, and his wife, Polly. Both are buried in a small pioneer cemetery overlooking the former site of their farmstead cabin near the entrance to Campground Fox. Additional settlers from the area are interred in the All hands Cemetery, just east of the main park pavilion.

Between 1850 and about 1940, much of the Kickapoo State Park area was strip-mined for coal. In fact, Vermilion County is said to be the birthplace of commercial strip-mining practices and one of the first areas to use mechanization for strip mining. The spoil piles and mine pits left behind after nearly a century of mining was the legacy from which nature had to recover to transform Kickapoo State Park into the outdoor playground it is today.


Reviews

Michael & Brandi Curry

Rating:
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017

A nice state park with many things to do from just having a cookout, going on the hiking or biking trails, go fishing in the many ponds or even the river, or my favorite, going camping in the nice, clean campgrounds with some of the lots right up a hill from one of the ponds. My family and I go camping here in the summer, ride around the park, and go fishing. We really enjoy cooking our Smores over the campfire at night in the peaceful campgrounds. Go and check it out, you'll definitely return there again.

Lacey Ford

Rating:
Monday, Jan. 1, 2018

Love the trails. Fun to canoe there. My dogs love going to play. Good for birthday party's, graduation parties, weddings etc...

l s

Rating:
Tuesday, Sep. 12, 2017

Been passing this place for decades now and always wanted to stop. Finally remembered prior to starting trip. The park is nice. Very rustic look with modern convenience. Bistro located on the pond. River runs past the campsites. Road in is narrow and busy with local runners and traffic. Hosts are hard to find and harder still to get to do anything but most of the campsites are long and pull-thru. Dump station is convenient and clean. If you reserve on line your name will be on a handwritten note on you site post. Close enough to the interstate that you hear the road noise but it isn't too bad. Exit 206 on 74 turn North for exactly a mile...slow down as the turn to the park is around a curve and heavily treed. Same exit off 206 has a very modern and well laid out Pilot with excellent RV lanes.

Satish Sanapala

Rating:
Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017

Kikapoo park is one of the best recreation parks nearest to Urbana Champaign area. It has variety of stuff to enjoy. We can even celebrate birthdays here. The trails are long enough for one who enjoys hiking a lot. Canoeing is my favorite activity here with my kids. Water in the river is not too deep enough to be worried about kids. We had lot of fun last time we were here.

Aaron Newman

Rating:
Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Pretty place, but some areas were closed. Rough trails that are steep and slick and muddy. Good if you have a small boat and want to fish.