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New rock-climbing opportunity opening Saturday, Sept. 30 at IDNR's Ferne Clyffe State Park in southern Illinois

Press Release - Friday, September 29, 2023

Funding and volunteer hours from Illinois Climbers Association key to project

SPRINGFIELD - A new sport climbing opportunity at Ferne Clyffe State Park in Johnson County is expected to attract hundreds of visitors to the park to enjoy this unique experience in a beautiful natural setting following a public grand opening Saturday morning.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Illinois Climbers Association on Saturday will formally cut the ribbon on a new rock-climbing area at the park. The site will include upgrades to one pre-existing wall and seven new climbing walls with about 70 routes currently, with an anticipated total of 120 routes when the project is completed in the future.

The Ferne Clyffe project was made possible because of more than 1,000 volunteer hours and $7,500 of donated funds from Illinois Climbers Association (ICA).

"This exciting new climbing opportunity among the pristine beauty and tranquility of Ferne Clyffe State Park is sure to be a draw for climbers from all over the Midwest," said IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie. "IDNR is thrilled to join the Illinois Climbers Association in providing climbing experiences for everyone from first-time climbers to seasoned experts."

IDNR offers rock-climbing at four state parks in Illinois - Ferne Clyffe, Giant City, Mississippi Palisades, and Pere Marquette.

"As the Illinois Climbers Association, our mission is to promote and advocate for Illinois climbing. We are thrilled to partner with the IDNR for a third time and expand upon the climbing opportunities at Ferne Clyffe," said Dave Hug, ICA volunteer coordinator. "When completed, we predict Ferne Clyffe will offer the best climbing experience of the state parks."

The grand opening will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday. Media and members of the public are invited to attend. The entrance to Ferne Clyffe State Park is on Illinois 37 near Goreville, and parking for the grand opening is at the Hillside Picnic Area. Visitors are encouraged to stay after the ribbon-cutting to observe or participate in rock climbing and a demonstration by the members of ICA.

"This project would not have happened without the support of the Illinois Climbers Association," said Jay Massey, site superintendent at Ferne Clyffe State Park. "I believe this addition to the park is going to generate a lot of interest in Ferne Clyffe and help to make it a premiere destination for rock climbing in Illinois."

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