What to do in Frank Holton State Recreation Area

*This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*

Located within sight of St. Louis Gateway Arch, Frank Holten is an urban site almost entirely surrounded by East St. Louis. The 1,080-acre park features an 18-hole golf course and facilities for fishing, picnicking, and other outdoor recreational activities.

The park was established in 1964 and named Grand Marais. On May 1, 1967, the name was changed to Frank Holten, in honor of the late distinguished legislator from East St. Louis. First elected in 1916, Holten served 48 years in the Illinois General Assembly. He died in December, 1966 at the age of 98.

Natural Features-In addition to the lakes and facilities located at Frank Holten, the park features a diversity of plant and animal life. Shade and decorative trees include Scotch pine, maple, oak, poplar, sycamore, ginko, tulip, red bud, sweet gum, and wild cherry. Water lily, lilac, arrowhead, bridal wreath, honeysuckle bush, and mock orange are some of the blossoming flowers and bushes. Many common wildlife species may be viewed in the park, such as rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, fox, groundhog, muskrat, and mink.

Picnicking-Frank Holten has one of the largest day use areas in the surrounding area. The park area consists of picnic shelters, barbecue pits, sanitation facilities, and drinking fountains. The facility can accommodate up to 2,000 patrons per day with adequate parking for all.

Fishing-Frank Holten has two lakes - Whispering Willow Lake and Grand Marais Lake - with a combined water surface of 208 acres and five miles of shoreline. Wispering Willow Lake was rehabilitated in 1983 and stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Boat and bank fishing is allowed, but boat anglers must use trolling motors or motors no large than 10 horsepower. Daily creel and length in limits are in effect for some sport species. Anglers are advised to check with the site superintendent for any special regulations before fishing.

Boating-There are no boat rentals at Frank Holten. Boat launch ramps are available on Wispering Willow and Grand Marais lakes.

Recreation-Frank Holten has an 18-hole golf course, named Grand Marais. The park also offers a combined football-soccer field, a cross-country track, basketball, and baseball diamonds.

From Springfield, go south on Interstate 55 for 90 miles to East St. Louis and follow the signs to Frank Holten State Recreation Area.

From Effingham, go west on Interstate 70 for 92 miles to East St. Louis and follow the signs to Frank Holten State Recreation Area.

From Mt. Vernon, go west on Interstate 64 for 74 miles to East St. Louis and follow the signs to Frank Holten State Recreation Area.

Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.

4500 Pocket Road
East St. Louis, IL 62205

Phone: 618.874.7920

Email: r4parks@dnrmail.state.il.us
  • Frank Holton State Recreation Area Travel Q&A