Best Camping in Illinois

The Best Camping in Illinois

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Illinois has plenty to offer campers and hikers, with (quite frankly) too many good spots to choose from. Many of the campsites are geared up for family holidays so you need not leave your luxuries at home, simply pack up your tent and off you go.

The parks are located alongside great local activities to get involved in, and near to lots of walking trails for you and your family to explore. However, if you would like to try something different such as your hand at fishing, or even at hunting, have a look for areas that are specialist in these – I’ve found you the best camping in Illinois.

Camping in Shawnee National Forest

Where can I camp in Shawnee National Forest?

Garden of the Gods Recreation Area

Best Camping in Illinois - Garden of the Gods

The view at Shawnee National Forest
Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest. by Asif A. Ali is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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This is one of the places that you’ll have definitely spotted on a postcard at some point as it’s the most popular spot in the state. There’s a local – quite short – trail that you can explore with signs along the way so you can learn about the nature in the area.

You can also hike down the tail which can be tricky at some points so be sure to take your boots and watch out for the steep cliffs.

Shawnee National Forest


Bell Smith Springs

Best Camping in Illinois - Bell Springs

Exploring Bell Smith Springs
Bell Smith Springs National Park by Asif A. Ali is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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If you’re looking for somewhere completely tranquil and picturesque then this is it. It has an abundance of clear streams and canyons where you can stand in awe at their beauty.

There’s also plenty of trails around for you to hike around where you’ll bump into some standout features such as the Devil’s backbone and a natural bridge made of rocks.

Visit Bell Smith Springs


Camp Cadiz

Best Camping in Illinois - Camp Cadiz

Exploring around Camp Cadiz
Garden of the Gods by Lori SR is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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This campsite is a little more lesser known than the others and so if you head there out of the deer hunting and turkey seasons then you’ll be able to enjoy a holiday truly away from it all. The Beaver trail is close by, with easy access to jump on and enjoy a day of hiking. Be sure to camp inside the campsite as there is private land around this area.

Visit Camp Cadiz

What’s there to do in Shawnee National Forest?

Best Camping in Illinois

Shawnee National Foreste
Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest. by Asif A. Ali is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Within the National Forest you will find plenty of activities to entertain the whole family. Firstly there is a range of hiking and walking trails to explore, especially around the Garden of the Gods.

If you are a fan of nature and forests then take a trip to the Giant City State park where you will find a nature reserve and events to get involved. Then once you’ve had your fill of forests and hiking head to the Cave-in-Rock state park which features a magnificent limestone cave.

Camping in Morris

Where can I camp in Morris?

Kayak Campground

Best Camping in Illinois - Kayak Campground

Kayak Morris Campground
Thanks to Kayak Morris for this image
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Your chance to camp right on the beach, in a forest, sounds great right? Right on the water it’s a brilliant chance to get back to nature. There’s also local shops nearby, a swimming pool and lots of fun for all the family.

There you can also rent kayaks for the day to explore the waters nearby alongside activities such as biking and fishing and of course, hiking for all.

Visit Kayak Campground


White Pines Forest State Park

Best Camping in Illinois - White Pines State Park

Picnicking at White Pines Forest State Park
P1040275.jpg by emptyage is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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In the heart of the Rock River valley lies the chance to camp beneath the stars. It’s ideal for family holidays as there’s fishing opportunities, and plenty of spots to picnic.

Interestingly, throughout the park there are concrete fords that allow you to drive through the flowing streams and have a proper adventure in the wild.
On the site you’ll find a local Inn where you can dine on homemade food and even hire a cabin if you don’t fancy a night in the tent.

Visit White Pines Forest State Park


Gebhard Woods State Park Campground

Best Camping in Illinois - Gebhard Woods State Park

Exploring Gebhard Woods State Park
gebhard woods by Dave Putz/Connie Sieh is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Activity hunters of all kinds are welcome in this campsite whether you’re wanting to camp, hike or canoe there’s plenty around to keep you entertained. There are five shaded areas where you can enjoy a picnic or an afternoon escaping the sun.

There are also fishing ponds available in the area so be sure to bring your gear for a relaxing time away from it all.

Visit Gebhard Woods State Park Campground

What is there to do in Morris?

Best Camping in Illinois

Morris
Spring (of water) by yooperann is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In Morris you will find many activities and events that you might not expect from a family camping trip, with wine tastings and antique stores, there’s something to satisfy everyone. Head to the Montage Wine Bar where you can indulge yourself in a cocktail or two, or even sign up to a wine tasting.

Or if vintage shopping is more your thing, then head over to True North: The Warehouse, which houses lots of trinkets to rummage around for.

There’s an outdoor market called ‘French Hens’, which is a great street market which is set in a beautiful outside location and then finally, hop on a kayak for a day of exhilaration.

Camping in East Central Illinois

Where can I camp in East Central Illinois?

Hidden Springs Campground

Best Camping in Illinois - Hidden Springs
Climbing up a bit higher than the waterfall, gives a view of the little canyon that ends with this waterfall. This is a place I’d love to explore, but there’s no easy way to get there. Maybe next spring……..
Beautiful scenery at Hidden Springs
Hidden Falls from Above by Tom Gill is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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As you may have guessed from the name, this region is filled with natural springs, which were used by early settlers. Also if you explore the waters you will also find that they are filled with channel catfish so it’s great for any budding fishermen!

Visit Hidden Springs Campground


Eagle Creek

Best Camping in Illinois - Eagle Creek

Walking through Eagle Creek
Prairie 2by jpmatth is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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With plenty of spaces to pitch your tent, and electricity to hook up to your RV this is a great site for family holidays. There is also lots of things to do within walking distance, such as boating and hiking. The area is also famed for its hunting as it is a designated hunting area – if you have a license.

Visit Eagle Creek


Fox Ridge State Park Campground

Best Camping in Illinois - Fox Ridge

Wandering through Fox Ridge State Park
North Charleston’s Wescott Park byNorth Charleston is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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With the rest of Illinois basically flat, this is a welcome difference in scene. It is nestled in the rolling hills and so enjoys spectacular scenery. It is highly geared up for families, such decked areas over the river, picnic areas and even two cabins that are available to hire.

Around the area are multiple scenic walking trails for you to explore with your whole family in tow.

Visit Fox Ridge State Park

What is there to do in East Central Illinois?

Best Camping in Illinois

East Central Illinois
Great Blue Heron 20170508byKenneth Cole Schneider is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Well apart from the obvious – a visit to Chicago – there are plenty of places outside of the city that you can explore with your friends and family. Some of it’s best kept secrets are the hidden natural springs and the abundance of fishing spots.

The garden of the gods is a must-see for anyone who wants to reconnect with nature with it’s beautiful scenery that fits nicely onto a postcard, be sure to remember your camera.

On top of this there is an extensive trail system running throughout the area so you can enjoy some fresh air and exercise without the need of a map and without the threat of getting lost.


I can’t wait to return to Illinois! What about you? Need to take a tent? Check out our best 4 person tents.

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