Camping Illinois: Discovering Hidden Gems in the Great Outdoors

Camping Illinois

Illinois is the ideal place to go camping if you want a special experience. The state has a lot to offer with its diversified geography, which ranges from gently sloping hills to lush woods. Camping Illinois you have a variety of alternatives, including scattered camping, tent camping, and RV camping. In this article, we’ll discuss the greatest campgrounds in Illinois, offer advice for your vacation, and highlight some of the best RV and scattered camping locations.

Introduction to Camping Illinois

In Illinois, camping is a well-liked hobby, drawing tens of thousands of tourists to the state’s parks and recreational areas every year. Forests, lakes, rivers, and plains are just a few of the many landscapes found in Illinois. It’s no wonder that camping is such a well-liked sport when there is so much untouched natural beauty to discover.

Every camper may find something to enjoy in Illinois, regardless of experience level. There are many different camping alternatives, ranging from secluded wilderness regions to campsites that are family-friendly. The most well-liked pastimes include hiking, fishing, boating, and animal viewing.

Types of Camping in Illinois

Tent Camping

Camping Illinois

Tent camping is a fantastic choice for individuals who want a more basic camping experience. There are several campsites in Illinois that provide both undeveloped tent sites and sites with access to water and power. The following are some of the top locations in Illinois for tent camping:

  • Matthiessen State Park: In Matthiessen, which is not far from Starved Rock State Park, there are rustic campsites for tent camping. There are several hiking paths, waterfalls, and picturesque vistas throughout the park.
  • Illinois Beach State Park: There are more than 240 tent-only campsites in this campground near Lake Michigan. Swimming, hiking, fishing, and breathtaking lake vistas are all available at the park.
  • Shawnee National Forest: With approximately 280,000 acres of woods, lakes, and rivers, this massive wilderness region in southern Illinois is rather large. The forest offers a number of tent-only campgrounds as well as chances for boating, fishing, and hiking.

RV Camping Illinois

RV Camping Illinois

For individuals who want to experience the great outdoors while yet having access to contemporary conveniences, RV camping is a popular choice. Many of the campsites and RV parks in Illinois include full hookups, bathrooms, and laundry facilities. Here are a few of Illinois’ best locations for RV camping.

  • Giant City State Park: This southern Illinois park features more than 80 RV spots. The park’s distinctive rock formations, hiking routes, and visual splendor are well-known.
  • Starved Rock State Park: This well-liked park, which located near Utica, Illinois, includes more than 125 RV spots. There are 13 miles of hiking paths in the park, as well as waterfalls and breathtaking Illinois River vistas.
  • Pere Marquette State Park: The Illinois River is visible from the park’s approximately 80 RV campsites, which are tucked away in the cliffs. Fishing, birding, and hiking routes are available in the park.

Dispersed Camping Illinois

Dispersed camping is a fantastic choice for anyone who wish to venture off the main path. Camping without established campsites or facilities is referred to as dispersed camping. There are several locations in Illinois where scattered camping is legal, despite the fact that it is not authorised everywhere. The top dispersed camping locations in Illinois are listed below:

  • Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge: Dispersed camping is permitted in some portions of this southern Illinois wildlife refuge’s 44,000 acres. Wildlife from different species, such as deer, turkeys, and ducks, call the refuge home.
  • Shawnee National Forest: Shawnee National Forest, one of Illinois’s biggest public areas, has many of options for scattered camping. It’s crucial to remember that scattered camping is only permitted in specific locations and calls for a permission.
  • Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie: This 19,000-acre prairie is about an hour’s drive from Chicago and provides options for remote camping. The prairie has hiking and bike routes, as well as a variety of species, including bison.

Best Places to Go Camping in Illinois

Illinois has a variety of camping destinations, from state parks to national forests. Here are some of the best places to go camping in Illinois:

Starved Rock State Park

One of the most well-liked places to camp in Illinois is Starved Rock State Park, which located in the Illinois town of Utica. Along with tent camping and cottages, the park features more than 125 RV spots. The park’s breathtaking waterfalls, canyons, and sandstone cliffs are well-known for them.

Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest is one of the biggest public areas in Illinois and provides lots of camping options. The forest offers both chances for scattered camping and a number of campsites with tent sites. Beautiful rock formations in the forest, such as Bell Smith Springs and Garden of the Gods, are well-known.

Mississippi Palisades State Park

This park, which is situated on the cliffs above the Mississippi River, provides camping, hiking, and breathtaking river views. There are more than 120 campsites in the park, along with hiking paths and fishing options.

Matthiessen State Park

In Matthiessen, which is not far from Starved Rock State Park, there are rustic campsites for tent camping. There are several hiking paths, waterfalls, and picturesque vistas throughout the park.

Tips for Camping Illinois

Here are some tips for making the most of your camping trip in Illinois:

  • Pack appropriate gear: You might need to pack different kinds of equipment depending on the kind of camping you intend to perform. Pack the proper clothing, bedding, and cooking supplies.
  • Check the weather: Check the forecast before you go because the weather in Illinois may be erratic. Be ready for varying temperatures, wind, and precipitation.
  • Make reservations early: In Illinois, many of the most well-liked campsites rapidly get full, especially during the summer. Make sure to reserve your space well in advance.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles: It’s crucial to follow Leave No Trace guidelines when camping in isolated regions to reduce your environmental effect. This entails clearing up any rubbish and reducing the impact of campfires.

Camping Gear Essentials for Your Illinois Trip

You’ll need a few key items of equipment for your journey whether you’re tent, RV, or scattered camping. Here are some necessities for your camping trip in Illinois:

  • Sleeping bag: To get a decent night’s sleep, you need a warm, cosy sleeping bag.
  • Camp stove: You’ll need a means to make meals, whether you’re using a camp stove or an open fire.
  • Tent: You will need a strong, weatherproof tent if you plan to tent camp in order to stay dry and safe from the elements.
  • Cooler: Your food and beverages will stay cold and fresh in a nice cooler.
  • First aid kit: Pack a first aid kit with the necessary supplies, such as bandages, antiseptic, and painkillers, because accidents might happen.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: It’s crucial to have a dependable source of light when camping in isolated regions.

Fun Activities to Do While Camping in Illinois

In addition to camping, there are plenty of fun activities to do while in Illinois. Here are some ideas:

  • Exploring small towns: There are many quaint tiny towns in Illinois that are worth seeing. Visit the neighborhood’s eateries, boutiques, and historical landmarks.
  • Boating: In Illinois, there are many possibilities to go boating, whether you enjoy kayaking, canoeing, or motorboating.
  • Fishing: Illinois is an excellent place to go fishing since it has over 60,000 miles of rivers and streams.
  • Wildlife watching: Illinois is home to many different species of animals, such as deer, turkeys, bald eagles, and bison.
  • Hiking: There are many different hiking paths in Illinois, from simple nature hikes to strenuous backcountry treks.

Safety Precautions to Take While

While camping is generally a safe activity, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some tips:

  • Stay hydrated: Keep in mind that summers in Illinois may be hot and muggy by drinking lots of water to remain hydrated.
  • Practice fire safety: Because campfires can be hazardous, be sure you abide by all fire safety laws.
  • Be aware of wildlife: Several types of animals, such as bears, coyotes, and snakes, may be found in Illinois. Make careful to maintain a safe distance and properly store food.
  • Be prepared for emergencies: Know where the closest hospital is located and have a plan in place just in case.
Beach Camping Florida

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Is Illinois good for camping?

Yes, there are a number of state parks, woods, and recreational places where you may camp in Illinois.

How much does it cost to camp at Illinois state parks?

For citizens, camping costs at Illinois state parks normally run from $8 to $35 per night, while out-of-state visitors pay $10 to $50 per night. There can be extra charges for extras or reservations made in advance.

Can I bring my dog to a state park in Illinois?

Yes, In most state parks in Illinois, you can bring your dog, but they must typically be on a leash and you must pick up after them.

Which parks have alcohol bans in Illinois?

Illinois state parks generally have alcohol drinking prohibitions, however the exact parks might differ. For the most up-to-date information, it is preferable to visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ official website or get in touch with specific parks.


Whether you like scattered camping, tent camping, or RV camping, Illinois is a terrific place to go camping. With so many choices, you’re sure to discover the ideal location for your upcoming camping trip. Just be sure you abide by all laws and ordinances, bring the proper equipment, and take safety measures. Camping is fun!


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