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We did our first (family of 5) camping trip at Thomas Woods. We were at site 4 which is electric hookup and it was a huge area! The kids had so much space to run around and explore. They loved the well pump. We explored the campground both tent and rv. Both areas were well spaced out with enough privacy. There was another 3 groups there but didn’t noticed everyone was quiet. We also went on walks within the conservation, the trails were very easy and was a nice walk. We will definitely be going back to Thomas Woods
This campground is in a populated area but the nature preserve is big. We rarely saw traffic once here. A train goes by a couple times but it was always during the day.
It’s pricey if you are from out of the county. We were hoping to camp at the primitive sites but they are walk-in only. Our teardrop wasn’t allowed. We settled at site 37 and enjoyed our stay. There are vault toilets but the large number of big RVs meant they were not used often leaving them almost like our private restrooms. Each site has water and electric. Trees are around the outside with few on the inside sites. All the sites have paved pads.
The highlight of our experience is the hiking. There are miles of trails. On one hike we were on paved, sifted gravel, grass and single trek trails. There are a lot of loops giving you options. When we left we still hadn’t hiked all of them.
If the price was more reasonable we would certainly be back. If you need the water/electric then this is a great choice.
Compared to other IL campsites, this one is prettier, but versus places I've been in WI or CO, this doesn't have as pretty scenery.
It is well maintained. There are some sites with no privacy, but if you get one in the treed area you will have some. My site could see are neighbor pretty easily but we set up our tent to block the opening in the trees.
P.S. raccoons are very used to humans and came up to us looking for food.
As someone who normally camps in state parks with only electricity hookups, this site was a welcome treat.
Rig: 2020 Micro Minnie 1700BH + Ford F-250
Campers: 2 parents, 3 boys ranging from 7 years old to 2 years old
Campsite Pros: Water + 50amp hookups. Wide, open spaces for kids to ride bikes and explore wildflowers. Duck viewing. Quiet. Almost 100 improved sites. Full bars on Verizon. Amazing sunsets. Sites seem to be mostly level.
Cons: Walkup only - no reservations taken. $35 a night is a bit steep. AT&T signal is spotty at times. Water hookup is far behind camping pad - bring extensions!
Spent a couple nights here (site 3) for Vintage Illinois at a nearby park. Quiet, fairly level, gravel sites. Electric worn but fully functional. Lots of trees and shade. From map it looked like site 3 was isolated at end of loop - weeellll, it IS at the end of a loop - right across from camp host and adjacent to maintenance area for lock & dam - not very picturesque. Didn’t use bathhouse so can’t comment on that. Drink vending machines by bathhouse. Local guy across from entrance to park sells firewood. Site had fire ring and picnic table. One thing to note - trees drop some kinda “nuts” and when you drive over them they pop and it sounds just like you are dragging low hanging branches. I started to backing and swore I was hitting branches (even though I’d looked and knew it was clear) and DW said we were clear….
Just down the street from Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park is the much smaller(and less crowded) Buffalo Rock State Park. It has some trails, camping, a playground and other facilities, and is right next to the I& M Canal Tow Path.
At a leisurely pace, it only took me a couple of hours to walk all the trails. They are nice well-kept trails. Most of the surface is gravel but some parts are just dirt. The trail is wide and mowed at least two feet on either side. I’m not sure if bikes are allowed; I did see bike tracks and did not see any sign that indicated they were not allowed. Very little elevation changes and none that were steep. There are a couple of overlooks that offer beautiful views of Illinois River.
The campsites are directly off of the towpath. The furthest site(the group site) is three miles from the ranger station. There are four sites total. One of the sites is kinda small but big enough for a single tent and two campers. The largest site is the group site which is the only site with a picnic table and shelter. The shelter needed some work but overall was in decent condition. It as a fireplace that was pretty neat. Each site has a fire ring with grill. I did feel a little exposed being right off the trail. I was nervous leaving all my gear behind when I went for a hike. Nobody messed with my stuff though and everyone I saw was very friendly. I did have a visitor around two in the morning my second night. He was looking for a place to rest for a few hours and left at daybreak. The sites are only accessible by walking or biking.
The park has a playground, restroom(with running water), and drinking fountains with spouts. The water tasted funny but it was nice having a source to refill my bottles. Also, there are buffalo and that’s pretty cool.
Went tent camping here and reserved our spot in advance. We bought fire wood from a locals front lawn at the entrance to the state park. Put 5$ in the bin and take a bundle. Its 30 mins away from Starved Rock and Matthiesson State Park. Good hiking. The river spots are all booked by large RVs and the tent spots have grills over the fire pits and picnic tables. lots of tree cover which came in handy when it rained in the morning. Otherwise great weather and not buggy. Dogs allowed.