Camping in Illinois

      Your gameplan for unbeatable camping experiences in Illinois.

      Your Go-To Illinois Camping Guide

      Ditch the city lights and trade them for fireflies in Illinois! This Midwestern gem offers a diverse camping scene, from serene lakeside pitches to adventurous forest trails. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rugged backpacker or a glamping enthusiast, Illinois has a campsite calling your name.

      Want to wake up to the gentle lapping of Lake Michigan at Illinois Beach State Park or cast a line into sparkling waters at Ferne Clyffe State Park? Craving something more rustic? Pitch your tent amidst the towering trees of Shawnee National Forest, or hike through the breathtaking canyons of Starved Rock State Park. And don’t forget the stargazing – Illinois’ clear skies will leave you speechless.

      Best Places To Camp In Illinois

      Starved Rock State Park

      Starved Rock State Park is a renowned destination for outdoor enthusiasts, known for its dramatic sandstone canyons, cascading waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails. Campers can choose from various campsites, including wooded tent sites, RV sites with hookups, and even cabins nestled amidst the bluffs. Kayaking, canoeing, and fishing are popular activities on the Illinois River,

      Starved Rock State Park Illinois

      Shawnee National Forest

      Encompassing over 660,000 acres, Shawnee National Forest is a hiker’s paradise, featuring diverse terrain like rolling hills, deep canyons, and unique rock formations like Garden of the Gods and Giant City State Park. Camping options range from primitive sites amidst the wilderness to campgrounds with amenities like showers and laundry facilities.

      Shawnee National Forest Illinois

      Chain O’Lakes State Park

      This 7,400-acre park encompasses 26 interconnected lakes, making it a haven for water recreation enthusiasts. Campers can choose from sites nestled along the shorelines or tucked away in wooded areas. Boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing are popular activities, while hiking and biking trails wind through the scenic landscapes.

      Chain O'Lakes State Park Illinois

      Kankakee River State Park

      Flowing for 53 miles through wetlands and forests, the Kankakee River is a magnet for nature lovers. The park offers camping options for tents, RVs, and even group camping. Canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are popular activities on the river while hiking and biking trails provide opportunities to explore the surrounding woodlands.

      Kankakee River State Park Illinois

      Pere Marquette State Park

      This park, named after a historic railroad line, features scenic bluffs overlooking the Illinois River Valley. Campers can choose from various sites, including wooded tent sites with fire rings and picnic tables. Hiking trails wind through the bluffs, offering panoramic views, while the river provides opportunities for fishing and boating.

      Pere Marquette State Park Illinois

      Things To Do In Illinois

      Horseshoe Lake State Park

      Centered around a 1,700-acre horseshoe-shaped lake, this park is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. Campgrounds offer tent and RV sites with amenities like showers and laundry facilities. Fishing tournaments are frequently held on the lake, while boating, swimming, and hiking are also popular activities.

      Millennium Park

      This sprawling park in the heart of downtown Chicago is home to iconic landmarks like Cloud Gate ("The Bean"), Lurie Garden, and Crown Fountain. It's a popular spot for strolling, picnicking, and enjoying free outdoor concerts and events.

      Art Institute of Chicago

       Housing an impressive collection of over 300,000 works of art, spanning from ancient times to the present, the Art Institute is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. From Monet's Water Lilies to Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, the museum offers a glimpse into diverse artistic movements and cultures.

      Navy Pier

      This iconic waterfront destination features amusement rides, shops, restaurants, gardens, and stunning views of Lake Michigan. Take a ride on the iconic Ferris wheel, explore the many museums and exhibits, or simply relax by the lake and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

      Magnificent Mile

      This world-renowned shopping district stretches along Michigan Avenue, offering a luxurious experience with high-end designer stores, boutiques, and art galleries. Even window shopping here is a delight, and don't miss the architectural marvels along the way.

      Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower

      Ascend to the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) for breathtaking panoramic views of the city and beyond. The glass-enclosed Skydeck offers an exhilarating experience, allowing you to step out onto The Ledge for heart-stopping vistas.

      Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

      Immerse yourself in the life and legacy of the 16th President at this museum located in Springfield, Illinois. Explore exhibits showcasing Lincoln's personal belongings, letters, and historical documents, and gain a deeper understanding of his impact on American history.

      Starved Rock State Park

       Located along the Illinois River, this scenic park offers hiking trails, waterfalls, sandstone bluffs, and stunning natural beauty. Explore the historic lodge, hike to the top of Starved Rock for panoramic views, or kayak along the river for a unique perspective.

      Route 66

      Take a nostalgic journey along this historic highway, stopping at charming towns, quirky roadside attractions, and diners serving classic American fare. Experience the iconic Americana vibe and soak in the rich history of this legendary road trip route.

      Garden of the Gods

      Located in southern Illinois, this unique geological formation features towering sandstone rock formations sculpted by natural elements over millions of years. Hike through the otherworldly landscape, climb the Devil's Staircase for stunning views, and marvel at the wonders of nature.

      Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

      Explore the largest and most complex pre-Columbian archaeological site north of Mexico. Hike through the ancient mounds, learn about the Mississippian civilization that thrived here centuries ago, and connect with the rich history of the region.

      Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park:

      This park boasts six miles of sandy beachfront along Lake Michigan, making it a popular summer destination. Campgrounds offer tent and RV sites with amenities like showers and laundry facilities. Swimming, sunbathing, and water sports are popular activities on the beach while hiking and biking trails wind through the surrounding dunes and woodlands.

      Featured Illinois Parks

      Inspiration From Our Nearby States

      Book an RV in Illinois

      Ditch the hotel hassle and hit the open road in Illinois - explore the Land of Lincoln in all its glory from the comfort of your own rolling home! Cruise historic Route 66, soak up the beauty of the Great Lakes or discover hidden gems in charming small towns. With an RV, Illinois' adventure awaits at your own pace. So pack your bags, fuel up on fun, and book your unforgettable Illinois RV adventure today!

      Frequently Asked Questions

      While truly free camping is limited, several options offer near-free experiences:

      • Primitive camping: Some national forests like Shawnee National Forest allow primitive camping in designated areas for a minimal fee or permit.
      • Public land: Certain public recreation areas allow free day use with limited overnight options (check specific regulations).
      • Volunteer opportunities: Some campgrounds offer free camping in exchange for volunteer work.

      Illinois State Park campground fees vary depending on location, campsite type, and season. They generally range from $15-$35 per night for tent sites and $25-$45 for RV sites. Additional fees may apply for specific amenities like electricity or water hookups.

      Dispersed camping (camping outside designated campgrounds) is generally not allowed on public land in Illinois. State forests and national forests have specifically designated camping areas. Camping outside these areas might violate regulations and incur fines.

      As mentioned above, dispersed camping is rarely permitted on public land in Illinois. While some national forests like Shawnee offer primitive camping in designated areas, it’s crucial to obtain the necessary permits and follow specific regulations.

      Spring (April-May) and fall (September-October) offer pleasant weather with fewer crowds. Summer (June-August) can be hot and humid, but ideal for water activities. Winter camping is possible in some areas with proper gear and preparation.

      Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons and at popular campgrounds. You can reserve campsites online or by phone through the Illinois DNR website.

      Gear depends on the season and your planned activities. Generally pack essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, appropriate clothing, food, water, flashlight, first-aid kit, and insect repellent. Consider weather changes, fire restrictions, and local wildlife warnings.

      Yes, camping in Illinois is subject to various regulations regarding fire safety, noise levels, waste disposal, and vehicle use. Always check specific rules for the campground you choose and follow Leave No Trace principles.

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