Discovering Cahokia Mounds State Park in Illinois

Overview

Cahokia Mounds State Park is one of the country’s premier locations for viewing ancient Indian burial mounds. Spanning nearly 1,000 years of construction, the mounds found at this state park are nothing short of breath taking. There are dozens of Indian burial mounds spread throughout the park, encompassing over 2,200 acres. Some of these mounds date back to 700A.D. when the Woodland Indians lived in the area. The park was name a national historical landmark in 1964, and later became a World Heritage Site in 1982.

Location and Getting There

Cahokia Mounds State Park is located at 30 Ramey Street, in the town of Collinsville, Illinois. Collinsville is located about an hour northeast of St. Louis and about two and a half hours southwest of Chicago. The park is conveniently located off of Interstate 70. Additional directions can be found by visiting their website at http://cahokiamounds.org/visit/directions. For additional information, the park can be reached by calling 618-346-5160. The park grounds are open from 8AM to dusk, seven days per week. However, please note that there are certain holidays, in which the park is closed. They are as follows:

• New Year’s Day
• Martin Luther King Junior’s Birthday
• Lincoln’s Birthday
• President’s Day
• Columbus Day
• General Election Day
• Thanksgiving Day
• Christmas Day

While admission is free, visitors are encouraged to make a donation, in the amount of $4 per adult and $2 per child. For those interested in guided tours, the park offers them daily. Typically, they start tours around noon and continue until them until about three o’clock. Self-guided tours are also available for visitors.

Key Attractions

The park offers numerous attractions for the historically minded. As the largest prehistoric Indian city in the United States, Cahokia Mounds State Park has voluminous knowledge available to those who seek to understand its past. To help visitors understand the cultural, religious and economic legacy of the mounds, the park has established an Interpretive Center. This attraction is not to be missed. Within the building, a completely recreated village has been built; to better help visitors understand the scale and complexity of the ancient city.

When planning a visit to the park, be sure to find out the latest events and happenings at the park. Cahokia features a “Spring Indian Market” each year. The event usually happens in late March and features numerous artists, crafts and cultural items associated with Native Americans. Typically, the event runs two to three days.
For those individuals, who are interested in Native American culture and its origins, the park hosts numerous lectures, throughout the year. These lectures feature some of archeology’s greatest luminaries.

Amenities

The park houses a shop. The shop includes a bookstore, souvenirs, replicas of artifacts and other Native American made items. Be sure to bring a lunch with you, as the park only has vending machines with soft drinks and snacks. Fortunately, the park does have picnic grounds, with picnic tables. The picnic tables cannot be reserved and are on a first come, first serve basis.

There is no fishing, kayaking or other recreational amenities located within the park. However, there are numerous options available within twenty five miles of the park.

Lodging

There are no lodging facilities at the park. If you are planning on camping or using a recreational vehicle, it will not be possible. Fortunately, there are various lodging facilities located near the park. There are several budget hotels located within a couple of miles west of the park. Nightly lodging rates start at about $35 per night.

For higher-end hotels, one needs to look east of Cahokia Mounds State Park. Several miles beyond the I-255 and I-70 expressway intersection are about a dozen additional hotels and motels, including the Doubletree Hotel, Hampton Inn and Drury Inn. If camping is the preferred lodging option, there are several RV parks and campgrounds located within thirty minutes driving distance from the park.

Additional Tips

Winters in Illinois can be downright treacherous. Driving conditions can quickly become hazardous, especially for high profile vehicles like RVs. It is recommended that visits to the park are made during the spring, summer or autumn seasons, with the winter season being avoided.
Depending on one’s interest in prehistoric Indian history, plan on spending at least half of a day at the park. If one includes any of the guided tours and lunch, it is easily possible to spend the entire day there.