State Natural Area is a 120-acre nature preserve in southwest Monroe
County. The main attraction of the site is the unimproved wild Mammoth
Cave, the second-largest cave in Illinois. The cave has been mapped for
six miles with nearly three miles of walking-height passage and features
formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, rimstone dams, flowstone,
soda straws, and an underground stream. The cave has a constant
temperature of 58 degrees F. and passages can be twenty feet high and
twenty feet wide. Fauna in the cave includes bats, salamanders, frogs,
crickets, amphipods, isopods, and the endangered Illinois Cave Amphipod.
With more than 100
recorded caves, Monroe County has more caves than any other county in
Illinois. Illinois Caverns has the distinction of being the only cave that
has been operated commercially in Illinois. A bound register kept at the
caverns indicates that the first paying sightseers arrived April 23, 1901.
A second attempt to commercialize the cave was made after William Hayden
bought the property in 1947. Some improvements were made, including the
installation of electric lights in the main passageways and advertisements
proclaimed "Mammoth Cave of Illinois
-- One of the World's Most Beautiful Caves." Unfortunately for
Hayden the venture failed and his nephew sold the property to the state in
1985. Interested visitors can explore the cave provided they are in groups
of at least 4, fill out a permit application, and bring proper gear. For a
complete explanation of the requirements or to get more details about the
caverns use the link at the bottom of the
ground the Illinois Caverns State Natural Area offers a half-mile long
prairie trail offering a chance to view the flora of an Illinois prairie
in its natural state. The site also offers a picnic shelter, primitive
restrooms, and a changing area, but there is no running water or
electricity at the site.
Illinois Caverns State Natural Area
April 15 - September 15
Wednesday - Sunday: 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
September 16 - April 14
Thursday - Saturday: 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
There is no charge to visit Illinois Caverns
State Natural Area, although donations are appreciated.
Caverns State Natural Area is located near the small town of Burksville.
Take IL-3 approximately 2 miles south of the last exit to Waterloo past a
John Deere dealership (approximately 10 miles north of Red Bud on IL-3.)
Take a right onto Kaskaskia Road and follow it into Burksville. The last road
in Burksville is KK Road, take a left on KK Road and go approximately 1
mile and take a right onto G Road. (G Road jogs at KK road, taking a left
will lead you back past Burksville.) Follow G Road approximately 3 miles and
Illinois Caverns will be on the right.
Learn more about the
Monroe County area.
Caverns State Natural Area - Official IDNR website