Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest refuges in the Great Lakes/Big Rivers Region. Established in 1947, the 43,890-acre Refuge includes three man-made lakes totaling 8,700 surface acres. The Refuge landscape also includes hardwood and pine forests, croplands, grasslands, wetlands, rolling hills, and rugged terrain with slopes of 24 percent. The 4,050-acre Crab Orchard Wilderness, the first wilderness area designated in the State of Illinois, is within the Refuge.
•Domestic Animals - Unconfined domestic animals are prohibited on the Refuge, except controlled hunting and retrieving dogs during the hunting season.
•Alcoholic Beverages - Entering or remaining on the Refuge when under the influence of alcohol is prohibited. The possession or use of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 21 is prohibited. Contributing alcoholic beverages to a person under the of 21 is prohibited.
This is the place for nature lovers in the Marion area. Nestled within the Shawnee National Forest, the 44,000-acre refuge has three artificial lakes and 5 hiking trails, one of which (the paved Woodland Trail loop) claims to be wheelchair accessible though it is a bit rugged nonetheless. If walking’s not your thing, you can still get some sense of the place with the nine-mile auto tour. Maps for both the drive and the hikes are available at the visitor center. Camping and fishing also are offered at the refuge. So is hunting, though not within 50 yards of any “designated public-use facilities,” which includes the roads, but make sure not to let the kids stray.