pyramid park

Land that once would have been considered unfit for use because of strip mining activity today is Illinois’ largest state recreation area thanks to conservation-minded leaders who reclaimed the land in the 1960s for a natural area.

Pyramid State Recreation Area south of Pinckneyville in southern Illinois has nearly 20,000 acres of rolling terrain, forest, lakes, trails, picnic sites and hunting areas. It also features 24 lakes and bodies of water, 16.5 miles of trails and three primitive campgrounds.

Fishing, hunting, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding and boating all are popular activities at Pyramid. Wildlife commonly seen in the park includes deer, songbirds, waterfowl, turkeys, bobcats, beavers and more.

Portions of the park are used for hunting deer, upland game, pheasants, turkey and waterfowl. Fishing enthusiasts will find largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and more. The Audubon Society has identified the Pyramid State Recreation Area as a globally important area for birds.

The park’s name is derived from Pyramid Coal Company, which mined the land until 1959. The State of Illinois took it over after the company ceased operations there, and Southern Illinois University used it for research before the Illinois Department of Natural Resources acquired it for a new natural area in 1968.

The state has expanded the park through the years, including the addition of 3,200 acres from another coal company in 2001.