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There are five fabulous National Park Services in the state of Illinois, though the state has no National Parks. The national park services are comprised of three National Historic Trails, one National Monument and one National Historic site. Ready to explore all that The Prairie State has to offer? Here are some of the best National Parks in Illinois to visit.

1. Lewis & Clark – National Historic Trail

The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail extends for some 4,900 miles (7,900km). It stretches from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. It is the third-longest National Historic Trail after The Trail of Tears and the California Trail. The trail commemorates the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 to 1806. Lewis and Clarke were American explorers and soldiers who set off to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. You can hike the trail or go by horseback and at some locations, you can even continue the journey by boat. In Illinois, the Lewis and Clark trail takes in some wonderful sites of significance. For instance, Fort Massiac, St. Nicholas Landmark, and Fort Defiance State Park.

2. Trail of Tears – National Historic Trail

The Trail of Tears takes you on a journey of injustice, as it follows the route that American Indians took when they were illegally forced to move from their ancestral homelands in the Deep South to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. During the Cherokee removal, historians estimate that 3,000–4,000 of them died during the passage – this is how the route got its name the Trail of Tears. Today, the 5,000-mile Historic Trail passes through nine states and marks the forced removal of Cherokee people, for instance, there are dozens of certified sites are dotted along the route. It is a beautiful way to learn more about American Indian culture and heritage and this dark period in history. Along the Illinois section, you’ll pass lots of fascinating features and sites. For instance, Campground Cemetery, Golconda Riverfront and Wayside Store and Bridges Tavern Site.

best national parks in Illinois
By Quentin Melson – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

3. Mormon Pioneer – National Historic Trail

The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states. The trail traces the 1,300-mile route taken by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847. As you walk the trail, you’ll learn the history behind this unique American religion. Places to visit along the Mormon Trail in the state of Illinois include the Nauvoo Landing, Nauvoo State Park and Museum, and the Carthage Jail & Visitor Center.

4. Pullman – National Monument

The Pullman National Monument tells the story of one of the first planned industrial communities in the United States. It also tells the story of the sleeping car magnate who helped create it and the workers who lived there. The Pullman National Monument is located in the Pullman neighbourhood of Chicago. This historic district includes the site of the former Pullman Palace Car Works shops and administration building, the Hotel Florence, Arcade Park, and the Greenstone Church (currently the Greenstone United Methodist Church).

5. Lincoln Home – National Historic Site

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States of America. However, before he became president, he lived in Illinois, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves the Springfield, Illinois home and the surrounding historic district where Abraham Lincoln and his family lived from 1844 to 1861. On a visit, you will get a glimpse into the life of Lincoln as a family man. You’ll also learn about his rise as a successful lawyer and politician, through the wonderful artefacts in the home, for example, paintings, documents and letters.