Illinois State Parks offer a wide variety of options that can be found no where else in the state. Spending a few days camping is the perfect way to experience what they have to offer to the absolute fullest. Scuba diving, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and canoeing are just some of the options that you’ll have to explore the gorgeous state of Illinois.


Illinois State Park Camping Tips :


Garden Of The Gods Recreation Area
– Shawnee National Forest, IL

Located in the Shawnee National Forest allows the Garden of the Gods recreation area to fully immerse you in your surroundings. No fancy clubhouse or activities here; setup your campsite and explore the forest around you. The unique rock formations make for a stunning view and a pleasing hike. Spending the evening watch the sunset from the top of a rock cliff is something that will make everything else in your life just kind of melt away.

Illinois Beach State Park – Zion, IL
This state park stretches along the gorgeous, sandy shores of Lake Michigan for 6.5 miles. It offers a fantastic places to bicycle, jog, or just relax in the peaceful surroundings with nothing but the waves hitting the shoreline. The campground offers 241 spots with access to electricity and shower facilities. Illinois Beach State Park is a wonderful place to go and enjoy Lake Michigan – whether you are lounging on its shores, swimming in its waters, or catching creating that fish-tale that no one will ever believe.

Giant City State Park – Makanda, IL
Giant City is a playground among the boulders for children and adults alike. Massive chunks of limestone rise before you to create nature’s skyline as you explore the streets between. Hiking and rock-climbing are two very popular activities here. Fishing, boating and hunting all make their appearance though. The campground is very well-kept and equipped; water, electricity, showers and sanitary facilities for tent and trailer camping are all there. There are equestrian [horse] trails also, with a separate campground that can accommodate your animals and equipment. Cabins are available as well as a lodge that is equipped with a gift shop, bar & lounge, restaurant, and outdoor pools.

White Pines Forest State Park – Mt. Morris, IL
White Pines Forest State Park is a combination of simple camping and accommodations. It is very easy to pitch a tent at one of the 103 sites [only 3 offer electric hook-ups] and spend the rest of the day hiking, fishing, or just exploring the 385-acre park.
If desired, they do offer cabins of various sizes to rent out; they welcome large groups as well. The White Pines Inn Restaurant serves up some delightful food if hot dogs just are not cutting it anymore. This rich forested park is a great place to spend a few nights.

Gebhard Woods State Park – Morris, IL
Gebhard Woods State Park is a primitive camping only location that offers a little more solitude then some of the other campgrounds. Car camping is not an option here. The camp sites are located 1/3 of a mile from the parking area, requiring you to carry your gear. The area does contain fire-rings, grills, picnic tables, and restrooms to accommodate campers. Hiking and biking trails provide easy access to explore the area, while fishing ponds and streams are scattered throughout.

Apple River Canyon State Park – Apple River, IL
Apple River Canyon is a gem of Illinois. Separating itself from the rest of the relatively flat state, you’ll find limestone bluffs, ravines, springs, streams and a plethora of wildlife to inspire the explorer in you. The campground offers 49 sites with no shower facilities; camping should mean swimming to get clean anyways. This area is great for fishing and hiking. Miles of trails meander through the forest, while trout, bass, sunfish and others fill the water around you. See a side of Illinois that you did not know existed.

Kankakee River State Park – Bourbonnais, IL
Kankakee River State Park is a great option for the hunters and fishermen out there. There are a couple different campgrounds in this park that offer primitive style to electricity and various amenities. Wildlife thrive in this area – deer, duck, pheasant, turkey, dove, rabbit, squirrel, fox, coyote and raccoon are all permitted during their allotted season. Fishing and canoeing are also popular in these shallow waters. Smallmouth bass, channel catfish, Walleye and Northern pike can all be caught here. Horse rentals are available nearby with equestrian trails throughout the park.

Starved Rock State Park – Oglesby, IL
Starved Rock State Park is kind of like a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and among the most popular of Illinois State Parks. The campground has 133 sites with electricity, water and showers all present on the grounds. The options here are almost endless. Hiking into a waterfall will transport you to the feeling of a mountain oasis. Hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and horse riding are just some of the other activities to pursue in the park. A lodge is available to stay at, while scenic tours on and off the water are available – along with a winery.

Mississippi Palisades State Park – Savanna, IL
The Mississippi Palisades is a great location for outdoor adventure; 2,500 acres are available for exploration. The campground contains 241 sites, some with access to showers and electricity. This area is in decently high-demand, but it is not hard to see why. A fifteen-mile trail system contain various difficulties of hiking.Fishing and hunting is quite good in the Palisades, making this a perfect base-camp for many sportsmen.

Kickapoo State Park – Oakwood, IL
Kickapoo offers various amount of recreation from canoeing, fishing, hiking, horse-riding, mountain-biking, as well as some other options, but what really sets it apart is the option to go scuba diving in clear, deep waters of Inland Sea and Sportsman’s Lake. You must be properly certified, but it is well worth learning how. There are 184 sites on the ground, and about half of them are equipped with electricity. Shower facilities are available if you incase you do not take a bath in the lake from tipping your canoe!

If you aren’t looking to get too far out of Chicago, take a look at what Cook County has to offer:
Camping Near Chicago – Cook County Forest Preserves

Don’t be afraid to attempt being Iron Chef when you’re out camping– rather than just burgers and hot dogs, think outside the bun a little :
26 Unexpected Foods For Grilling Other Than Burgers


Recommended Resources:

Learn about camping in Yellowstone National Park at

And if you enjoy boating, be sure to understand boating safety tips. Learn more at


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