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 park has a fair amount of trees throughout which gives a greater sense of privacy than most state parks. As usual, the facilities were well maintained and the park was clean. The beach was great for morning walks but that draw makes it seem that this park is probably packed in the summer. Location of hiking trails from campsite isn't super clear but head south for the longest trails. If it's been raining a lot I'd be wary as many of the sites were completely underwater when we went. It's a great place to take your dog with you! (Beware if they have long hair though, the pine trees meant I had to cut sap out of my dog's hair in several places.)
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.
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.
The sites are large and nice. There are some sites that aren't very level so you do need to check that out if you're in a larger rv. We had the beach mostly to ourselves. We camped from Monday to Thursday after school had started back. We will be returning to this campground. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. The only down side we found was the limited shower and toilet facilities for such a large campground. We didn't have any trouble because of the time we were camping but it would be a problem if the campground was pretty full.
I enjoy Illinois beach state park for a quick getaway. It’s a great spot to cook out and have a beer. However it is generally loud, with no vegetation between you and your neighbor. It’s not an ideal spot to connect with nature. The beach is pretty but it’s more interesting to look at the derelict old buildings and nearby out of use nuclear power plant.
This campground is very well maintained with all the amenities you could need: a small camping store, communal kitchen, firepits, and clean bathrooms. Check out the office for fun seasonal events like group hikes and geocaching contests.
Located in the Norwest suburb of Palatine, this campground is super accessible from Chicago and a fun getaway for suburban camping. Grocery stores and modern conveniences are minutes away. From the campground you have access to the entire Deer Park preserve and it's paved cycling and walking trails.
Cook County residents get a nice discount, as do veterans. Rates go up on the weekends. A one week limit for all stays unless you get approval from higher-ups.
RV spots are concrete, flat, and easy to get into.
Overall, a very clean and well-loved sem-urban camping experience.
Tent sites are in hickory hills area. Easy walk to showers/toilets over across from site 100. Tent sites are much more shaded and private than electric sites. We were traveling with another family so had two sites. If you have two parties I'd recommend sites 27 and 31 which have a little private path and potentially 53 and 5 which also appeared to have a path between them. Our sites 47 and 53 were big and shaded but not very flat for sleeping. Boat launch very close if you bring your own kayaks or canoes. There are also some for rent at the other end of the park. Park and ice at concessions.
Very large campground. Many seasonal areas. Will let you set up a group of campers in a circle in grassy areas. They do an extremely large Halloween event Columbus Day weekend. Jam packed for this event. Awards for site decoration. Campsites set up haunted houses, candy for kids, drinks for adults. Fun to see adults and kids all dressed up.
A good place to camp . Price is very reasonable and the people are great . Easy to get in and out . Lots are nice and well kept . Close to everything you need. Not a lot to do at this location
This campground was easy peasy and had an incredible view of the lake. We were right there on the lake. We went in September so I'm not sure how it would be in the summer since there is little to no cover.
There was nice hiking and we were able to get out into the woods for a while. My friend and I were surprised that such a nice place is so close to Chicago. There is a dock and the campground had good access to water, sink, and a nice bathroom. Lots of families were there when we went. Overall would recommend.
We tried to stay in site 14 that had 30 amp service. Our TT is 30amp. Our A/C unit kept tripping the breaker on the campground pole. Our breaker inside never tripped. They had someone come out and claimed their electric was fine and our A/C was broken. Went home bc it was 95 out and our A/C ran fine off a 20amp household outlet with no issues. Reported this so it could be fixed and the office still argued that their service was fine.
We booked a couple of days ahead of our stay, and ended up with one of the last 2 sites in the primitive tent area. The site was on the end of an inlet, and the water was full of algae– not a great view, but the lot was a decent size. Not as big as some state campgrounds that we’ve been to, but big enough for our single tent and it had a small fire ring with grate and a picnic table. (NOTE: There appears to be a shortage of picnic tables in this area, and we ended up snatching one from the neighboring site as the residents hadn’t arrived yet. It was an east/west facing lot, and had a couple of trees of the east side, so no afternoon shade. Tough luck on a weekend with temps hanging around 90 degrees! Luckily, I had taken a large tarp and managed to rig some shade with the help of the trees. The toilets in the primitive area are pit– there are 2 sets so no one has to walk far. The toilets closest to our lot were better than I had expected from a pit– no smell in the women’s, although I was told that the men’s was pretty foul. There were, as usual, plenty of flies and spiders, but the TP was always stocked. There were flush toilets and showers near the RV camp areas. I first, used the showers in the Plum Grove section– there were 3 showers with very old with rusty, crusty shower curtains. The way that they were laid out, the changing area for the first two showers were a walkway for the other showers. However, I later used the shower close to the Staghorn area, and it was a bit newer and nicer. No walkthrough problems, and there was a door between the changing area and the main section. Overall, the entire campground was nice and well kept. The general store was small, but carried quite a bit for its size. There was also another store at Pierce Lake where they rented kayaks and paddle boats, sold fishing gear, ice cream, etc. At this same location there’s a small concession area– the hot dogs were pretty good.“Quiet time” isn’t exactly enforced(unfortunately). We were lucky enough camp on a weekend when a group(maybe 10 tents) of wannabe musicians were camping. They played bongos and guitars and sang until 11:30 p.m. Add that to the families with kids and scooters that started tooling around the tents at 7:00 a.m.(yes, technically the end of quiet time, but really?), and it could have been quieter.
NOTE: I forgot to mention that the sites along the water's edge were covered in goose poo. We spent around 20 minutes clearing the site. Nature, whatcha gonna do?
Electric site 7/5-7/7. Campground gets quiet at night. So many campground hosts around I don’t think they would let it be loud past quiet hours. First night the concession closed early so weren’t able to get firewood and had to go to the closest gas station. We could not figure out the problem but I’ve never had such a hard time keeping a fire lit with the wood from the concessions and gas station. Did some fishing, just caught some bluegill. We walked around a lot and did some kayaking. Shower houses were pretty gross in tent loops. We still had a great weekend.
I love to camp at this place because the park has nice sites to camp. I stayed at the site #90 it was a big space and had alot of trees around that made a perfect shade. In addition, the park has a lake and you can rent a boat and have fun. The only thing i did not like was the people in the front of my site had a a party an making alot of noise and not following the park quiet hours. Enjoy camping everyone !
We’ve stayed at Rock Cut several times, always in the Stag Horn loop, and had great sites. This last time, the grass was so high, we couldn’t use our fire pit or picnic table. My husband came later and he brought our weed wacker so we could clear it out enough to set up our screened canopy. I like stag horn since they are level, close to the bathroom and camp store, as well as a mixture of wooded and not wooded sites. Some sites are a bit tight.
Beautiful spot for our single overnight. Staff were great; friendly and helpful. Park was well kept, with lots of green around RV and tent sites. Nice pool, dog park, store, and even a stream system that wanders through the park (no swimming in the stream). Also close to Starved Rock State Park for some neat scenery and hiking. The only downside side is that some of the RV sites are a little close together - didn’t impact our stay though. Two thumbs up! :)
The following review was done by my thirteen year old daughter. I agree with the shower problems and add that it was our final cold showers in disgusting conditions that lead us to write the review.
“If I could give negative stars❌ then trust me I would. Normally I consider myself a good sport and can sit through a lot of things✌🏼 but not the showers here😡, they look like they haven’t been cleaned or cared for in months🤮 and often have no toilet paper in the bathroom stalls. When I took a shower I found a small frog🐸 in it and I wish I was joking about that. There were dead mosquitoes on the walls💀, dead moths on the floors, piles of hair on the floors🤢, and dirt in every crack. But they have a nice Rockwall🧗🏽♂️.”
Other than the shower issues, the campsite🏕 was fine. It was easy to level, they give you free firewood with your stay, the staff is kind😇 at checkin and during rock wall activities. The location🗺 is the main draw, as we wanted to be close enough to visit Chicago and suburbs.🙂