Best Camping in Illinois

Camping in Illinois

By Alex Murphy

Illinois is full of great destinations to explore, from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan and the bustling metropolis of Chicago. Further afield, visitors will find open plains and the Shawnee National Forest, a lush landscape dotted with historical landmarks.

So whether you're looking for Camping near Chicago or a quiet campsite in a state park, Illinois has a lot to offer guests.

See a map of all camping in Illinois.

Illinois State Parks

There are more than 60 Illinois State Parks that cover everything from waterfalls to fishing and luxury cabins. The best part about camping in the Land of Lincoln is campgrounds in Illinois vary greatly depending on the region.

Starting in the northern half of the state, Rock Cut State Park has miles of trails and is a popular hunting destination. The park is named for the rocky terrain found in the region.

Illinois Beach State Park sits on Lake Michigan with beach access and is only a short distance north of Chicago.

Fort Massac State Park is the oldest state park in Illinois. Visitors can enjoy disc golf and historic sites.

National Parks in Illinois

When it comes to federal land, history is king in Illinois.

The Pullman National Monument in Chicago is focused on the Pullman company, known for building train cars during the Westward Expansion in the late 1800s. The site was later home to a massive riot which led to important changes for U.S. workers.

Nearby campsites provide easy access to other parts of Chicago and include two county parks, Camp Sullivan and Camp Bullfrog Lake.

Another well-known historic site is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in the state's capital of Springfield. There are a few nearby campgrounds that can provide easy access to the original home of Abraham Lincoln, including Illinois State Fair Campground and the Springfield KOA.

Free Camping in Illinois

Unlike some nearby states, there isn't a lot of free camping in Illinois. Most visitors will have to stick to businesses that allow overnight parking. Other options include highway rest stops like Rend Lake Rest Area found not far from the Missouri and Kentucky state lines.

National Forests in Illinois

Located in southern Illinois, Shawnee National Forest Camping is carved by the flowing water from the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. For hiking fans, the River to River Trail is a 160-mile path connecting the two rivers through the forest. The area is also known for scenic drives for those who prefer to stay in the car.

Redbud Campground and Shawnee Forest Campground are both located within the National Forest and are great for tent camping or RVers. Another option is the private Tall Tree Lake Campground which has waterfront campsites.

RV Parks in Illinois

There are many Illinois RV Parks to choose from in the state, including some that offer camping near Chicago.

Campers can get a free hotel breakfast at the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Resort and have easy access to the casino. Also just over the Indiana state line is Emerald Trails Campground, which is located near a lake.

Outside St. Louis, MO, there are many RV campsites, including Cahokia RV Parque, which is a short drive from downtown St. Louis. Further, into the state of Illinois, you'll find RV and tent sites at Boulder Recreation Area that also have great lake views.

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Recent Illinois Campground Reviews

Oct 26, 2021

"Beautiful spot right on the Mississippi!"

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This was one of my favorite spots on our way to Maine. Water and electric for $20. Beautiful campground with great views. Nice cement pad, fire pit, picnic table and large grass lot. Dump station available. A train goes by but did not bother us. We would spend a week here next time!

Doug Routledge
13 reviews
Lincoln, IL

Camp A While

Oct 24, 2021

"A Diamond In The Rough"

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Camp-A-While is a gem of a place centrally located in the Land of Lincoln. Clean, safe and easy to get in and out of, the gravel sites are level. It has Full hook ups with water, 50/30 electric and sewer. Eric and Todd are super helpful and are very selective in guests. We will definitely stay here again on our next trip north.

Caroline Warren
3 reviews
Eddyville, IL

Bear Branch Campground

Oct 24, 2021

"Good for horse campers. "

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Close to lots of trails. Friendly atmosphere.

Zane Looney
2 reviews
Champaign, IL

D & W Lake RV Park

Oct 20, 2021

"Easy pull thru"

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This was a nice park, lots of pull thrus on a small lake. We were escorted to our site. FHU. Easy navigation with our 40’ fifth wheel. Good Verizon and ATT signals.

Leslie Waterman
10 reviews
Oct 19, 2021

"Nice place"

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We only stayed one night and as usual we wish we had more time to enjoy the area. Staff was very cooperative with getting our 71' total total rig into the best site with easy exits.

Lynda Tiefel
5 reviews