Where to Camp in the Prairie State
Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Home of the Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America. First state to ratify the 13th amendment and abolish slavery. Birthplace of McDonald’s and the Twinkie.
These are just a few of the things Illinois is known for.
You may not believe that there’s great camping to be found in a state where over 80% of the land area is farmland, but there are many beautiful hidden gems in Illinois that make for a great camping trip. Here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Prophetstown State Park – Prophetstown
Prophetstown State Park, on the northeast edge of Prophetstown along the south bank of the Rock River in Whiteside County, is a scenic and historic area offering a variety of recreational facilities. Once the site of an American Indian village, the 53-acre park derives its name from the Native American prophet Wa-bo-kie-shiek. Learn more.
2. Eagle Creek State Recreation Area – Findlay
In east central Illinois–just minutes from Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Effingham and surrounding communities–the Eagle Creek/Wolf Creek sites, facing each other across the central portion of Lake Shelbyville, provide the perfect setting for outdoor recreation, natural relaxation and luxurious accommodations for a day, a weekend, or even longer. Learn more.
3. Lake Muphysboro State Park – Murphysboro
Beautiful rolling hills and woods surround star-shaped Lake Murphysboro and provide a wonderful backdrop for boating, fishing, picnicking, camping and hiking. Located in Jackson County about 1 mile west of Murphysboro off Route 149, the 1,022-acre state park is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. Learn more.
4. Giant City State Park – Makanda
Camping, picnicking, hunting & fishing, rock climbing & rappelling, horseback riding, and lodging & dining are all offered at Giant City State Park. Visitors will marvel at the many hiking trails. A sure adventure awaits anyone hiking the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the “Giant City Streets”, formed 12,000 years ago by huge bluffs of sandstone. Learn more.
5. Rock Cut State Park – Loves Park
Chiseled out the state’s far northern region in Winnebago County. Nearby are other “rocky” landmarks – the might Rock River and the place where wagons once forded it, Rockford. It’s an area of rolling plains, interesting history and recreational variety. Learn more.
6. Pere Marquette State Park – Grafton
Pere Marquette State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. In addition to enjoying the spectacular views of the Illinois River and its backwaters from several points atop the bluffs, visitors can take advantage of a variety of year-round recreational opportunities, including horseback riding, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and boating. Learn more.
7. Apple River Canyon State Park – Apple River
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest art of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. This scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of Apple River. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area which was once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. Learn more.
8. Clinton Lake State Recreation Area – De Witt
If you’re looking for the ideal place to drop your line, enjoy a day on the boat, or a weekend camping, visit Clinton Lake State Recreation Area in east central Illinois. Recreational opportunities abound at the 9,300-acre site. Learn more.
9. Kayak Morris Campground – Morris
Kayak Morris is an Environmental Education based Outfitter. We utilize Kayaking, Camping and other disciplines as a vector for teaching kids of all ages about the outdoors. Learn more.
10. Kickapoo State Recreation Area – Oakwood
West of Danville, this park was the first in the country to be built on surface mined land. It offers scuba diving and also an anglers paridise with its 22 deep water lakes. The park offers many types of camping , miles of hiking trails and more that 10 miles of mountain bike trails. Illinois only National Scenic river, Middle Fork of the Vermilion, runs thru the park offering excellent canoeing and fishing opportunities. Learn more.
Do you have a favorite camping spot in Illinois that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments!
And be sure to check out the rest of our Best Campgrounds in the US series.