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Rend Lake 7 November, 2021

Rend Lake

Rend Lake is a 13-mile long reservoir located near Centralia, Illinois crossing both Jefferson County and Franklin County near the town of Benton. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers created the lake in response to the community’s needs. With the help of the Rend Lake Conservancy District, Congress allowed for the building of the Rend Lake whose purpose is to control the flood from the Big Muddy River and Mississippi River. This also served a purpose for water supply, water control, wildlife and fish conservation, area development, and recreation. Currently, Rend Lake serves multiple functions aimed at improving the quality of life in the region. In more than 60 communities, Rend Lake provides over 15 million gallons of water per day.

Rend Lake’s shoreline extends about 162 miles. Swimming beaches are located in the northern part of the lake, maintained by the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area. 

Fishing and boating in the area

The Rend Lake has 162 miles of shoreline and 30 boat ramps. This place is home to a variety of fishes all year round. Depending on the season, you can catch crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, carp, and white bass.

Largemouth bass fishing at Rend Lake is on average, according to a survey in 2020. The population of largemouth bass is supplemented by a stocking program. There have been a total of 397,000 bass fingerlings stocked in the Rend Lake in the last ten years.

Fishing for crappie at Rend Lake, on the other hand, is projected to be excellent. Bluegill fishing is projected at good, with most catch sizing between 6.5 inches to 8 inches long. Catfish surveys, however, are lower because of the off-season increase in the temperature of air and water during fall.


There are five campgrounds within Rend Lake, and reservations can be made by calling, going through their website, or in person. The five campgrounds and their amenities are listed below are as follows:

South Sandusky Campground

  • Backcountry and trailer sites are available
  • All RV sites have electric hookup
  • Some include full-hookup with water, sewer, and electric
  • Drinking water, hot showers, flush toilets, and dump station available
  • Two playgrounds 
  • Volleyball net
  • Beach is only a short distance away

North Sandusky Campground

  • Campsites with electric hookup and some with full-hookup (water, sewer, and electric)
  • Drinking water, hot showers, flush toilets, and dump station available
  • The boat ramp, day-use area, and disc golf course are in close distance
  • Gun Creek Campground
  • Electric and full-hookup sites with lake views
  • Drinking water, hot showers, flush toilets, and dump station available
  • Boat Ramps
  • Playgrounds

South Marcum Campground

  • Backcountry and travel trailer sites with scenic views
  • RV sites include electric hookup, and some are full-hookup with water, sewer, and electric
  • Drinking water, hot showers, flush toilets, and dump station available
  • Playground
  • Pond
  • The boat ramp and day-use area are in close distance

Dale Miller Youth Camp 

  • Private getaway for large groups
  • Picnic shelter (enclosed) with tables and a stone fireplace
  • Large grill behind the shelter
  • 10 RV/trailer sites inclusive of five 30-amp electric pedestals
  • Picnic tables with grills 
  • 16 station fitness trail
  • Private beach
  • Tennis court, basketball court, baseball/softball field
  • Group fire ring with 4 benches
  • Mini-shower building with restrooms
  • 5 cabins with picnic tables
  • 20 amp electric and locking doors 


Rend Lake Visitors Center

The Rend Lake Visitors Center is a perfect place to start your journey. This place contains extensive information about Rend Lake in the form of interactive exhibits, brochures, and the Environmental Science Series. 

Rend Lake Golf Complex

The Rend Lake Golf Complex involves a public 27-hole golf course, lodge and condominiums, cabins, full-service restaurant and bar, and a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 200 guests.

Located just a little distance from Centralia, Illinois, this beautiful complex contains paved cart paths, mature trees, wide fairways, vast greens, exquisite landscaping, fountains, and challenges perfect for golf enthusiasts. This wonderful golf complex is open year-round with special lodging and golf packages.

Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park

The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is a perfect getaway for recreationists of all ages. The park is 3,300 acres of paradise that offers various types of water activities such as jet skiing, water skiing, boating, fishing, and swimming. The place also features bike trails, camping, equestrian trails, hiking trails, hunting, and geocaching. Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park offers full-service and backcountry campsites.


Hiking and Bike Trails 

The Rend Lake has 21 miles of paved multi-use trails for hiking or biking. Some parts of the trails include wonderful picturesque views of Southern Illinois habitats, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands. 

Blackberry Nature Trail

The Blackberry Nature trail is short and quick at about 3/4 mile. This area highlights the oak-hickory forest habitat that dominates Southern Illinois. During the hike, you can encounter common wildlife, including white-tail deer, squirrels, and spring wildflowers. The remnants of the farm that once occupied this land can also be seen within this hiking trail.

Catfish Cove Pond & Trail

The catfish cove pond and trail is a new addition to The Rend Lake. This is a short trail at the southern border of the Visitor Center grounds just across the parking lot. This trail features five acres of a nature trail, pond, native plants, fishing piers, and a 1,200 foot-long concrete path. The pond contains bluegill, bass, and catfish.

Wayne Fitzgerrell Trails 

The Rend Lake offers a 9-mile of equestrian trails surrounding the wildlife/field trial area. This area also includes 4 miles of fine gravel hiking/biking trails that are great for viewing wildlife.


The Rend Lake offers six different water trails that will give an exciting and unique experience. There are sections excellent for beginners and advanced kayakers. Each of the sections can be accessed by a boat ramp.

Kayak rental is available through local vendors.


There are about 112 geocaches scattered all around Rend Lake. These geocaches are managed together with dedicated volunteer geocachers. This activity can be played by beginners or advanced. Geocaching is a perfect way to spend outdoor activity at Rend Lake while exploring the area.


There are two public swimming areas (South Sandusky Beach and North Marcum Beach) in Rend lake that are open from morning to night. Day use fees are $5.00/vehicle.

Both beaches have shower facilities, restrooms, reservable picnic shelters, volleyball nets, and picnic tables. 

Other activities around Rend Lake

  • Farms and winery visits
  • Firearms training
  • Museum tours
  • Fitness
  • Farmers Market
  • Video Gaming
  • Visit local parks and recreation areas

How to get there

Get on I-57 S in Raccoon Township and follow I-57 S to IL-154 W in Whittington. Take exit 77 from I-57 S. Continue on IL-154 W to your destination in Barren Township by turning right onto Fitzgerrell Park Dr where you will arrive at your destination.

Final thoughts

The Rend Lake is a perfect place to spend time outdoors. It’s only minutes away from Centralia, Illinois, and features many amenities, including campsites, boat ramps, fishing spots, hiking trails, and more. If you’re looking for an adventure in the great outdoors with your family or friends without having to drive hours out of town, then this might be just what you need!



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