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lincoln lake state park
Afternoon glow through the trees at Lincoln State Park.

Effortless recharge at Lincoln State Park

After an early morning thunderstorm rolled through our camp in St. Louis, we decided a day in the woods was in order. I quickly stumbled upon the Lincoln State Park campground which was excitingly adjacent to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Camping, swimming, biking AND an NPS site? We’re in!

Cool off in the lake

After a morning thunderstorm brought extreme humidity to St. Louis, we decided to ditch our plans for another city and head for the woods. Having never been to a midwestern lake, we completely surprised by a sandy beach and perfectly clear warm water at Lincoln State Park. At 44″, Bo was able to touch the bottom in the entire roped off swimming area. This shallow water was perfect for the adults to wade or float about while the kids played tag, practiced gymnastic maneuvers and caught tadpoles.

lincoln state park beach
The lake was perfect for cooling off on a hot, humid June afternoon.

The calm water is also perfect for other recreation. Paddle boats and kayaks are available for rental (they closed at 3 so we missed taking the giant duck out for a spin). We also saw people paddleboarding and many more throwing in a line as dusk drew near.

arlo at lincoln lake state park
Arlo wanted to take a stroll around the dog friendly park to find out what the fishers were catching.

See how you measure up to Lincoln

We took an easy bike ride to Bicentennial Plaza, located just off the road between the entrance and campground turn. Each stone on the center column denotes Abe’s height from at 7 when the family arrived here until 21 when he moved to Illinois. We all enjoyed seeing how we measured up to the man at different ages.

bicentennial plaza lincoln state park
Being dwarfed by 10-year-old Lincoln’s measurement.

An unexpected bronze statue of Lincoln is hiding behind the age stones, flanked by the words of the Gettysburg Address. Surrounding stones contain quotes and give the whole site a very stone henge vibe.

bronze lincoln at bicentennial plaza
Kids posing with Lincoln on backside of Bicentennial Plaza.

Find the Moon Tree

While inspecting the map, I came across the curious notation of the “moon tree”. Arlo was the only family member who wasn’t exhausted from swimming and biking, so he and I headed out across the dam constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression.

geese swimming in Lincoln Lake
Geese swimming just beyond the dam at Lincoln Lake.

Since this was his first walk along a lake, he quite enjoyed sniffing all of the goose presents as we wandered along. Just below the dam, we spotted a lone but quite large tree that proved to be our target.

moon tree lincoln state park
Moon tree planted in 1976 after the seed took a trip aboard the Apollo 14 to the moon in 1971.

Beneath the tree, a stone described the voyage of 500 seeds on the Apollo 14 mission in 1971 to the moon. Planted along with a time capsule by a Girl Scout troop in 1976, the tree remained when the capsule was opened in 2001 and replaced with another to be opened in 2026. Now that I know that these seeds were spread around the world, I’m keeping my eyes open to see how many we can find:)

stone below indiana moon tree
Designation stone below Indiana’s Moon Tree at Lincoln State Park.

Stay a while in the Campground

At $30 per night for water & electric sites, Lincoln State Park electric campground was a bargain. With RV, tent and cabin rentals, it appeared to be a favorite getaway for locals. Spacious sites had plenty of space for groups to gather during the day. Our large firepit along the forest edge was just the place to catch the firefly show at dusk. Adjacent to the lake and across the street from the National Memorial, it was just the nature reboot we needed between historical metropolises.

Campsite at lincoln lake
Our campsite at Lincoln State Park.

What did we miss?

Have you been to Lincoln State Park? Tell us about your adventures!


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