Chicago Camping & Campgrounds

10 Picturesque Chicago Area Campgrounds

Welcome to the best resource for finding campgrounds in the Chicago area. If you’re a nature lover living in Chicago, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several beautiful state park campgrounds within a few hours’ drive of the city. These state parks offer a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Midwest.
From stunning lakeshores to lush forests, these state park campgrounds offer a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, kayaking, and more. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an action-packed adventure, there’s something for everyone in these picturesque state park campgrounds.

This post introduces ten of the most beautiful state park campgrounds near Chicago. We’ll provide all the information you need to plan your next camping trip, including details on the campsites, activities, and amenities available at each park. So, grab your camping gear and explore the great outdoors!

Starved Rock State Park

Oglesby, IL 61348; (815) 667-4726

Starved Rock State Park is one of the most beautiful camping destinations for nature lovers near Chicago. Located just two hours from the city, it offers a breathtaking landscape of sandstone canyons, waterfalls, and bluffs overlooking the Illinois River. The park is also home to abundant wildlife, including deer, eagles, and otters, making it a perfect escape for those who love to explore nature and wildlife.

starved rock waterfall

The park has 129 campsites, including 60 Class-A premium sites, with electricity, showers, and restrooms. There are also over 100 miles of trails to hike and explore, with different difficulty levels for all ages and skill levels. The trails offer stunning views of the canyons, rivers, and lush greenery surrounding the park.

Starved Rock State Park also has plenty of activities to keep campers busy, including fishing, boating, and kayaking. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats at the park’s boathouse. There are also picnic areas, playgrounds, and a visitor center that offers educational programs and exhibits.

Starved Rock State Park is the perfect place to visit if you want a peaceful, picturesque camping destination near Chicago. Its stunning natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and endless activities make it an ideal getaway for nature lovers and families.

Illini State Park

2660 E 2350th Rd, Marseilles, IL 61341; (815) 795-2448

Illini State Park is a hidden gem located in Marseilles, Illinois. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Chicago, making it an easy and convenient getaway for nature lovers. This park is situated on the south bank of the Illinois River, offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding landscape.

The park’s campground features 39 sites, some of which are situated right along the riverbank. You can wake up to birds singing and the gentle lapping of the river against the shore. Each site has a picnic table, a fire ring, and access to nearby restrooms and showers.

In addition to camping, Illini State Park offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. You can hike along the park’s trails, fish in the Illinois River, or take a scenic drive. There’s even a boat launch to explore the river by water.

One of the highlights of Illini State Park is the historic Marseilles Dam and powerhouse. You can take a guided tour of the powerhouse to learn about its history and see the massive turbines. The park also has a visitors center to learn about the area’s natural and cultural history.

Kankakee River State Park

5314 West Rt. 102, Bourbonnais, IL; 815-933-1383

Kankakee River State Park is a nature lover’s paradise in the heart of Illinois. This state park is just over an hour from Chicago and is known for its beautiful scenery, hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and camping facilities. The park is situated along the Kankakee River, the perfect spot for a relaxing day of fishing or kayaking. Several campgrounds within the park, including the popular Chippewa Campground, offer 147 campsites for both tents and RVs. The campground has modern amenities, including showers, toilets, and a playground for kids. The park also offers several hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderate, perfect for exploring the park’s natural beauty. The park is home to various wildlife, including deer, raccoons, and beavers, so keep your eyes peeled as you explore the park.

Indiana Dunes State Park

1600 North 25 E., Chesterton, IN 46304; 219-926-1952

Indiana Dunes State Park is a perfect getaway for nature lovers. Located in Porter County, Indiana, it offers a diverse range of activities for campers and visitors. The park boasts 15 miles of sandy beaches that offer spectacular views of Lake Michigan and its surroundings. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and sandcastle building. In addition to the beach, the park offers hiking trails that run through sand dunes, woodlands, and wetlands.

The trails offer breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding dunes. The park also has picnic areas, a nature center, and a camp store where visitors can purchase camping supplies and souvenirs. The campground has over 140 sites, including electric and non-electric options. The sites are equipped with fire pits and picnic tables, making it a perfect spot for campers to enjoy a meal or roast marshmallows. The park also offers cabins for rent. Indiana Dunes State Park is a must-visit for nature lovers who want to experience beautiful scenery and outdoor activities.

Camping at Van Buren State Park

23960 Ruggles Road, South Haven, MI 49090; 269-637-2788

Indiana Dunes State Park isn’t the only Lake Michigan-area campground with natural sand dunes. Check out the 400-acre Van Buren State Park in South Haven, Michigan. The park features a mile of sandy beaches, dunes, and 220 camping sites, which run in the $21-23 price range. Sites have electrical hookups, and the campground has two modern restroom buildings.

The sites are 400 yards from Lake Michigan, so you’ll have to hike to hit the beach. You can run down the sandy dunes on your way. The beach is a popular swimming spot for locals and visitors. And nearby is the 14-mile-long Van Buren Trail for hikers.

The campground features two modern restrooms, shower buildings, and a play area for kids. If you’re gung ho about securing a spot, you can make reservations up to six months in advance.

Pets are permitted, so bring Fido along, but keep him off the beach. Pets are not allowed on the beach within the park’s borders – a Michigan state law.

Van Buren State Park (not to be confused with a similarly-titled park in Ohio) became a state park in 1965.

Silver Springs State Park

5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488; (352) 261-5840

Silver Springs State Park is a natural oasis just a few hours away from the city and is a perfect destination for nature lovers who want to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Located in Illinois, this park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, and boating.

The park’s campground offers 14 RV sites and 80 tent sites, with amenities like showers, restrooms, and a dump station. The well-maintained sites offer plenty of shade, making them ideal for a relaxing camping experience. The park’s main attraction is the beautiful Silver Springs, a natural spring that feeds into a scenic lake. Visitors can rent a canoe or kayak to explore the lake or hike on one of the park’s many trails to see the beautiful waterfalls and wildlife. Other popular activities at the park include fishing, picnicking, and bird watching. The park is also home to a visitor center, where visitors can learn about the park’s history and ecology.

Matthiessen State Park

2500 IL-178, Oglesby, IL 61348; (815) 667-4868

Matthiessen State Park is a hidden gem of Illinois, located just 90 miles southwest of Chicago. The park boasts picturesque canyons, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The park has two campgrounds, the Prairie Campground and the Equestrian Campground, both of which offer a serene setting and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
The Prairie Campground is perfect for families and tent campers. It has 33 campsites with picnic tables, fire pits, and access to nearby restrooms and showers. The campsites are nestled in a prairie landscape surrounded by oak and hickory trees, providing a beautiful view of the park. The Equestrian Campground is designed for horse enthusiasts and offers 17 campsites with hitching posts and access to a nearby water source.

The park offers hiking trails that lead to the canyons and waterfalls, providing a unique experience for nature lovers. The park also offers fishing opportunities in its streams and ponds, allowing visitors to catch some local fish species. In winter, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, offering cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

Turkey Run State Park

8121 Park Rd, Marshall, IN 47859; (765) 597-2635

In Indiana, Turkey Run State Park is a beautiful and popular destination for nature lovers near Chicago. The park is named after the small stream that winds through the sandstone gorges and is home to unique geological formations that make for some truly stunning scenery.

Several campgrounds within Turkey Run State Park offer a range of camping experiences. The Turkey Run Inn Campground features cabins and an inn, while the Turkey Run Campground offers tent and RV camping. The park also has rustic cabins available for rent, which are nestled in the woods and provide a great opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
In addition to camping, Turkey Run State Park offers many outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, canoeing, and swimming. There are over 11 miles of trails in the park, ranging from easy to strenuous, that showcase the park’s beautiful sandstone formations and diverse plant and animal life.

Warren Dunes State Park

12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer, MI 49125; 269-426-4013

The state parks along Lake Michigan with natural sand dunes are the coolest places to camp in the greater Chicago area. Indiana Dunes State Park is probably the most well-known location. Another is Van Buren State Park in Michigan.

And a third great option is the one you’re reading about, Warren Dunes State Park. Warren Dunes is cool because it has three separate campgrounds with very different features. One is a “modern” campground with 182 sites, electric hookups, and newer restrooms. Another, referred to as the “rustic” campground, has 36 sites with no electricity and only pit toilets (talk about roughing it!)

A third option is a group campground with six sites near the park’s north side. Those interested in using the group site must call ahead and make reservations.

warren dunes michigan

How much will camping at Warren Dunes cost? Well, the modern campsites are the most expensive. As of this writing, nightly fees are $37 for a full hookup, $31 for a 50-amp hookup, and $29 for a 20/30 amp service. The modern campground also has mini-cabins for those who prefer that over tent camping.

As for the rustic sites, those cost only $22 each, making them a good option for budget campers. However, remember that entry into all Michigan state parks requires the annual Michigan Recreation Passport, which costs $11 for in-state residents and a whopping $31 for out-of-staters (or $9 for a one-day temporary pass.) If you’re traveling there from Chicago, don’t forget to add that cost to your trip calculations.

Warren Dunes State Park covers 1952 acres, including three miles of shoreline and six miles of hiking trails. The dune formation peaks at 260 feet, allowing guests to climb to the top and look out over Lake Michigan and the surrounding area. The park is open year-round and maintains cross-country skiing trails during winter.

Chain O’Lakes State Park

8916 Wilmot Rd., Spring Grove, IL 60081; 847-587-5512

Chain O’Lakes State Park is located in Spring Grove, Illinois, and offers a unique experience for nature lovers and campers alike. The park is on 6,000 acres of land, with 230 campsites available. The sites are equipped with electricity, and shower facilities are available for campers.

One of the park’s main attractions is the Chain O’Lakes, a series of interconnected lakes and waterways offering endless boating, fishing, and water sports opportunities. The park also features several hiking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds for families to enjoy. For those who enjoy wildlife, Chain O’Lakes State Park is home to various animals, including deer, foxes, beavers, and many species of birds. The park also offers educational programs and events throughout the year, making it a great destination for families and school groups.

Conclusion and final thoughts.

In conclusion, there are plenty of picturesque state park campgrounds for nature lovers near Chicago. These parks offer a great opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in nature. From the stunning views of Starved Rock State Park to the serene atmosphere of Illinois Beach State Park, there is something for everyone. Whether you are an experienced camper or just looking for a weekend getaway with friends or family, these state park campgrounds have everything you need.

While there are many campgrounds to choose from, planning your trip ahead is essential. Check out each park’s amenities and rules before making your reservation. Additionally, it’s always important to respect nature and leave the park as you found it. Following these guidelines can help preserve these beautiful state parks for generations. So pack up your tent, grab some camping gear, and head to one of these breathtaking state park campgrounds near Chicago. It’s time to connect with nature and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Now that you have seen our top 10 picturesque state park campgrounds for nature lovers near Chicago, it’s time to grab your camping gear and hit the road! Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, these state parks offer some of the best camping experiences. We hope our list has helped you find the perfect destination for your next outdoor adventure. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and share them with us! Happy Camping 🙂

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