Discover Carlyle Lake

Welcome to Carlyle Lake, Illinois, where serenity meets adventure in the heart of nature. Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Illinois, Carlyle Lake offers a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and leisure seekers alike.

Discover the allure of Carlyle Lake as you explore its vast expanse of pristine waters, perfect for boating, fishing, and water sports. Dive into the tranquility of its shores, where lush greenery and scenic trails await avid hikers and nature lovers. Whether you seek an adrenaline rush or a moment of peace, Carlyle Lake promises an unforgettable experience for all.


Best time to visit
Best things to do

Top 3 Facts about Lake Carlyle in Illinois



Carlyle Lake is Illinois’ largest man-made lake, covering an impressive 26,000 acres of surface area. Its expansive waters provide ample space for various recreational activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming.


Fishing Paradise

Anglers flock to Carlyle Lake year-round to reel in diverse fish species, including bass, crappie, catfish, and more. The lake’s fertile waters and varied habitats provide excellent fishing opportunities, making it a haven for amateur and seasoned fishermen.


Dam and Reservoir

Carlyle Lake owes its existence to the Carlyle Dam, completed in 1967 for flood control and water management along the Kaskaskia River. The reservoir formed by the dam serves as a recreational hub and plays a crucial role in regulating water levels and mitigating flood risks in the region.


Must See Attractions

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Dam West Recreation Area

Recreation Area

Offering stunning views of Carlyle Lake and the Carlyle Dam, this recreation area is a must-visit spot for its scenic beauty and various outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, hiking, fishing, and birdwatching while viewing the lake’s panoramic vistas and surrounding landscape.

Eldon Hazlet State Park


Situated on the eastern shore of Carlyle Lake, Eldon Hazlet State Park offers a range of recreational amenities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, and a swimming beach. The park’s lush woodlands and scenic shoreline provide a tranquil setting for outdoor adventures and relaxation.

Clinton County Historical Society Museum


Located near Carlyle Lake, this museum showcases Clinton County, Illinois’s rich history and heritage. Visitors can explore exhibits highlighting the area’s Native American culture, pioneer settlements, agriculture, and more, providing valuable insights into the region’s past.

Annual Events and Festivals

Late April or early May

Carlyle Lake Duck and Goose Festival

This festival celebrates the abundance of waterfowl that call Carlyle Lake home.

Visitors can enjoy guided birdwatching tours, educational programs about migratory birds, and various family-friendly activities centered around conservation and appreciation of wildlife.

Late July or early August

Carlyle Lake Regatta

Boating enthusiasts from around the region gather at Carlyle Lake for this annual regatta, featuring sailboat races, powerboat competitions, and other nautical events.

Spectators can enjoy the action from the shore or participate in onshore festivities, including live music, food vendors, and children’s activities.

June or July

Carlyle Lake Fish Fest

Anglers of all ages come together for this annual fishing tournament at Carlyle Lake.

Participants compete for prizes in various categories, including the largest fish caught and the most species caught. The event also includes fishing clinics, casting competitions, and a fish fry showcasing the lake’s bounty.

Top Hiking Trails

General Dean Trail

General Dean Recreation Area

Named after Major General William F. Dean, this trail offers a picturesque hike along the eastern shoreline of Carlyle Lake.

Stretching for approximately 6 miles, the trail winds through woodlands and meadows, offering stunning views of the lake and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation.

Shelbyville Trail

Dam West Recreation Area

This trail offers a scenic hike through mature forests and rolling hills near the Dam West Recreation Area.

Measuring around 2.5 miles, the trail provides panoramic views of Carlyle Lake and the surrounding countryside, making it a favorite among nature lovers and photographers.

Coon Ridge Trail

Coon Creek Recreation Area

This moderate-to-difficult trail traverses the rugged terrain of Coon Ridge, offering hikers a challenging adventure amid dense woodlands and rocky outcrops.

The trail spans approximately 3 miles and rewards intrepid hikers with sweeping vistas of Carlyle Lake and the Kaskaskia River valley below.

Best Golf Courses

Carlyle Lake Golf Club

13726 Lake Road, Carlyle, IL 62231

Situated just a short drive from Carlyle Lake, this 9-hole public golf course provides a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful countryside views.

The course is suitable for players of all abilities and offers affordable rates.

Governors Run Golf & Country Club

3300 Governors Drive, Carlyle, IL 62231

This 18-hole championship golf course offers scenic views and challenging play for golfers of all skill levels.

Amenities include a driving range, practice greens, and a clubhouse with dining options.

Greenview Golf Club

2801 Putter Dr, Centralia, IL 62801

Approximately 30 minutes from Carlyle Lake, Greenview Golf Club features 18 holes of challenging golf set amidst rolling hills and lush landscapes.

The course also offers a pro shop and clubhouse amenities.

Water Sports


Several designated swimming beaches around Carlyle Lake provide opportunities for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day.

Families can enjoy sunbathing, sandcastle building, and picnicking at these picturesque beach areas.


With its expansive waters covering over 26,000 acres, Carlyle Lake is perfect for boating enthusiasts.

Whether you prefer powerboating or sailing, there’s plenty of room to explore the lake’s scenic shoreline and coves.


Carlyle Lake is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers can cast their lines in search of various fish species, including bass, crappie, catfish, and more.

The lake’s diverse habitats provide ample fishing grounds for both novice and experienced fishermen.

Winter Activities

Ice Fishing

When Carlyle Lake freezes over in the winter months, it becomes a popular destination for ice fishing enthusiasts.

Bundle up and head out onto the ice to try your luck catching a variety of fish species, including crappie, bluegill, and catfish.

Winter Hiking

Many of the hiking trails around Carlyle Lake remain open during winter, providing opportunities for scenic winter walks.

Bundle up in warm layers and explore the tranquil beauty of the lake’s snow-covered shores and surrounding woodlands.

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

When snow blankets the landscape, the trails around Carlyle Lake transform into winter wonderlands perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Strap on your skis or snowshoes and glide through the peaceful winter scenery.

Where to Eat

Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery Restaurant

$$ – $$$ • American

Schleicher’s Bar & Grill

$$ – $$$ • Classic American

The Fish House

$$ – $$$ • Seafood

Where to Shop

Ten Pin Antique Mall


Cindy’s Resale Shop

Discount store

Casey’s General Store

Grocery store

Where to Sleep

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1054 Grace River Road
Number of Guests 8
Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 3
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Smoke detectors
$0.00 / day
sparkles New

JP Rest House

V262+C5P, Manikganj, Bangladesh
Number of Guests 4
Bathrooms 2
Bedrooms 4
Sq Footage 2,400
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$300.00 / day
sparkles New

Tips on Renting a Vacation Home on Carlyle Lake

Start Early

Begin your search for vacation rentals well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during peak seasons like summer or holidays. Popular properties tend to book up quickly, so starting early gives you the best chance of finding the perfect rental for your needs.

Define Your Needs

Consider what amenities and features are essential for your vacation rental. Are you looking for a waterfront property with a certain number of bedrooms, pet-friendly accommodations, or specific amenities like a dock or boat access? Knowing your priorities will help narrow down your search.

Read Reviews

Take the time to read reviews from previous guests to get an idea of their experiences staying at the property. Pay attention to comments about cleanliness, amenities, location, and the property owner’s or management’s responsiveness.

Check for Hidden Fees

Be aware of any additional fees or charges associated with the rental, such as cleaning fees, security deposits, or pet fees. Ensure you understand the total cost of your stay before booking to avoid any surprises.

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Going Deeper: History and Cultural Significance of Carlyle Lake

Carlyle Lake, located in southern Illinois, boasts a rich history and cultural significance that dates back centuries. Originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Illini and Miami, the area around Carlyle Lake was a vital center of trade and settlement.

With the construction of the Carlyle Dam in the 1960s for flood control and water management along the Kaskaskia River, Carlyle Lake was formed, becoming Illinois’ largest man-made lake. Beyond its practical purpose, Carlyle Lake has emerged as a cherished recreational destination, drawing visitors from near and far to its pristine waters and scenic surroundings. The lake’s cultural significance lies in its role as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering boating, fishing, camping, and hiking opportunities and a place for community gatherings, festivals, and events.

Carlyle Lake stands as a testament to the enduring connection between humans and nature, providing a place of respite, recreation, and appreciation for the natural beauty of Illinois’ heartland.

Frequently Asked Questions about Carlyle Lake

Anglers at Carlyle Lake can expect to reel in various fish including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and white bass. The lake’s diverse habitat ensures a rewarding fishing experience, whether you’re casting from the shore or a boat.

Yes, Carlyle Lake has public beaches that provide a perfect spot to soak up the sun and swim. These beaches often feature amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and volleyball courts, making for a fun and convenient lakeside outing.

Carlyle Lake is a hub for recreational activities. You can go boating, swimming, and sailing, particularly popular due to the lake’s favorable winds. Land lovers can enjoy hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. There’s truly something for everyone at this outdoor destination.

Yes, several marinas and boat rental facilities around Carlyle Lake offer a range of watercraft for rent, including pontoon boats, fishing boats, kayaks, and paddleboards.

Yes, designated swimming beaches are available at Carlyle Lake, allowing visitors to enjoy swimming and sunbathing during the summer months.

Yes, Carlyle Lake offers several campgrounds and RV parks where visitors can camp overnight, with options for both tent camping and RV camping.

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