$6 / night

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Established Camping

Castle Rock State Park Campground

7 Reviews


State Park

Castle Rock State Park is located along the west bank of the Rock River in Ogle County, three miles south of Oregon, on Ill. Rt. 2. Castle Rock camping is centrally located in the Rock River Hills region of Illinois, and its rolling topography is drained by the Rock River. The park is representative of the Rock River Hills area with rock formations, ravines and unique northern plant associations. A sandstone bluff, adjacent to the river, has given the park its name.​​​​

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7 Reviews

Stuart K.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Apr. 9, 2024

Get a Kayak to Camp Here in this Primitive Campground!

Located just 4 miles or so south of Oregon in north central Illinois, Castle Rock State Park is located along the snakelike Rock River, where Route 2 parallels a scenic drive full of nice foliage and heavily forested areas that are interrupted from time to time by deep gorges and ravines, sandstone bluffs, heavily forested dells and limestone-sheathed rock formations. If you’ve come this way to do some decent hiking, with more than 6 miles of moderate landscape, you’ll be rewarded for finding this place off the beaten path. And during the winter months these hiking paths make for great cross-country skiing and tobogganing. What’s super unique about this place is that you’ll discover in some areas of the park outcrops of the native forest, seemingly untouched over time, but yet, in others, the Midwest prairie sneaks up and surprises you just when you least expect it.

As for the campground itself, be forewarned, you cannot drive or even hike into this campground – as it is accessed only by boat along the Rock River. And while there is supposed to be a boat dock right in front of the Castle Rock State Park Campground (just look at the photo of the map), I never found one, and I careened up and down the Rock River a number of times, so be prepared to get wet and muddy when trying to access this very secluded and often sparsely populated spot. I could only speculate that as we were in shoulder season, they hadn’t put the dock back in place yet as perhaps it was taken down during the winter? In all, there are only 9 sites to choose from and while fairly well-maintained, meaning that the grass is cut and the shrubbery trimmed back some, this is a very primitive site with virtually nothing, apart from a few in-ground rectangular fire rings w/ grill covers, a handful of stand-up grills and a couple of scattered picnic tables to make use of. There is only a single bathroom that can be accessed and there are no showers.

From an historical perspective, you will find all sorts of rich Native American history up and down the Rock River, which in its original native tongue was called Sinnissippi, which is Sauk for ‘Rocky Waters.’ Here in this place, the Sauk and Fox tribes lived in peace until the advance of colonists in the early 1800’s, when the great Sauk chief, Blackhawk, led his and other tribes out of the area, only to return a few years later to ignite a series of battles called Blackhawk Indian Wars, which ended in less than a year and ultimately led to Blackhawk’s capture. If you have the time, I would highly recommend you drive further north just past Oregon where you can see the massive 10 story statue commemorating the Great Chief Blackhawk at Lorado Taft, which is another fantastic place to get in some hiking, explore nature and connect to this amazing patch of land.

Insider’s tips: (1) While you can’t hike or drive in to this campground, you can canoe or kayak in, and decide to hike out of the campground, where I would strongly recommend ascending the single gravel lane that takes you up to Route 2, where you can cross the road and access all of the great hiking trails that are, here including Pond Trail with 2 miles of easy-to-moderate trails and Oak Ridge Trail, which is a bit more challenging, but only a single mile in length, with Fox Trail the shortest at a half mile, but quite scenic. These 3 trails make up the South Trails; (2) The far better and more challenging hiking is to be had in the North Trails, where you’ll have to hike down along Route 2 for a bit or hitch a ride, but here there’s a total of 5 trails to choose from: River Bluff (.5 mile), Wildlife Viewing (1 mile), Heather Valley (2 miles), Timber Edge (1/4 mile) and Forest Ridge (1 Mile). These make up the North Trails; (3) There’s also a sweet little picnic area up here in the North Trails called Aspen Ridge that is nice, and closer to the river, near River Bluff trail, where you’ll see the picturesque Old Orchard picnic area, which I highly recommend; (4) When you head downstream to access the Canoe Campground, be sure to stay on the right, as you’ll encounter a number of islands in the river that will block your view, so row close to shore in order to spot the campsite; and (5) You’ll access the boat launch up river from the entrance of the State Park, which is just beyond the Castle Rock Scenic Overlook and Wayside Area, but before you reach Aspen Ridge picnic area.

Happy Camping!

Month of VisitJune
  • Review photo of Castle Rock State Park Campground by Stuart K., April 9, 2024
  • Review photo of Castle Rock State Park Campground by Stuart K., April 9, 2024
  • Review photo of Castle Rock State Park Campground by Stuart K., April 9, 2024
  • (10) View All
Brian O.
Reviewed Nov. 13, 2020

Hope you have a good boat

It’s a 2 mile drift downriver from the boat launch to the campground. When we were there the river was placid and we had no trouble paddling back when our stay was over. The conditions on the river depends largely on the dam 3 miles up river in Oregon. We have a 17’ canoe, so we had lots of gear and momentum. The sites are primitive, but have tables and fire pits. Since all sites are on the riverbank and there’s a state forest across the river, you really do feel like you’re away from it all. However on the backside of the grounds you can cross over Rt. 2 to the parking lot at the prairie and forest trailheads. If the Rock River seems too big for you, drive upriver 11miles  to He-Leo Two Rivers Preserve. Easy to miss, but worth it. From there you can check out the shady, winding and intimate Leaf River. Nearby are two other state parks worth exploring; Lowden and White Pines.

  • Review photo of Castle Rock State Park Campground by Brian O., November 13, 2020
  • Review photo of Castle Rock State Park Campground by Brian O., November 13, 2020
  • Review photo of Castle Rock State Park Campground by Brian O., November 13, 2020
  • (6) View All
Brian H.
Reviewed Sep. 3, 2020

Disconnected from outside world

Very cool experience! It was no joke when the other reviews said it was a almost a 3 hour canoe back up to the boat launch. However, it was a very great experience once we got to the campsite. There is a porta potty, but there is no clean drinking water. Cell phone signal is not that great, but you really don't need it. Stars ✨ look amazing at night. Mosquitoes were not bad at all. Just some bud but all they do is annoy you. Make sure you have a good canoe/kayak. Don't recommend an inflatable one like I did. Some parts of the river are shallow enough to walk on too. Overall, I do recommend Castle rock state park to camp if you have a good kayak/canoe or have a motor boat. It was very peaceful only a few people came the weekend we went. Everyone had there own space and didn't feel too close to each other.

SiteSite 6
Month of VisitSeptember
  • Having trouble rowing down the river.
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Castle Rock State Park Campground is located in Illinois

Detail location of campground


41.95434149321686 N
89.38398297421249 W

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