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Creston, ILLINOIS

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Good for family campground

This camp site does not have very secluded spots. I would have enjoyed a more quiet plot of land amongst some pine trees.

We did not get out to see much of the park. Would like to come back and experience the actual beauty of the park not just the family campground.

Wonderful

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

Short stay park.

Large trees provide ample shade. A nice park for a short stay. Water is available at certain locations not at individual lots. This is the park with the Chief Blackhawk statue.

Amazing hiking and beautifully kept but a bit pricey

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.

Very busy but trees give privacy

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.

Water Hookups for the Win

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!

Decent State Park

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….

Great for bike camping but a little exposed

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.

Woods near the river

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.

Beautiful canyons to hike through! Many waterfalls and streams as well!

Beautiful canyons to hike through! Many waterfalls and streams as well!

Convenient campground for nearby hiking

The campground is pretty basic. For $25-35 per night, you can get a site with electrical hookup. The east loop has better tree coverage and more privacy. The west loop has more site in a large open space, maybe better for groups. I give 3 stars because there is not much to do at the campground itself. You have to get in your car and drive to any hiking at Starved Rock State park, just 10 min away, and battle the crowds for parking. The campground has just 2 real bathrooms, one for each loop. Each has 2 flush toilets and 2 showers. Showers were pretty rough, no temp control and spraying everywhere but your body. Some portapotties are scattered around, but pretty ripe by the end of August. Use the woods. There are 2 small playgrounds, but one is just a swing set. So if you have kiddos, there is not much for them to entertain themselves with at the campground- no hiking trails, no pond or fishing or swimming, no DNR programs, etc. Park has posted signed that there is ABSOLUTELY NO ALCOHOL allowed, so keep it private and quiet. that being said, the hiking in the general area is awesome!!! Lots of canyons, bluffs, and overlooks. Just be prepared to drive. A very basic “store” open after 3pm, just had fire starters, marshmallows, bug spray, ice cream, and pop. Some little souvenirs. No milk or eggs. For a 30 ft travel trailer, our campsite has just enough room for our slide out and awning. The fire pit was well placed and had a grate for cooking. Electrical was confusing- our site was listed at 50A only. It really was 50/30/20A(see pictures). Easy to back in to, mostly level site for quick set up. Our campsite, 85, had nice shade and lots of trees. You can see and hear your neighbors but there is decent separation. We had space to hang a hammock and have a fire, with a full picnic table as well. There are a few sites for fresh water fill, and a dump station. Took about 45 min for us to dump being 5th in line at 10:30am. Book early- reservations open online 6 months in advance and book up quickly. Most summer weekends are completely full. Spring and fall camping is great here- waterfalls are rain fed and often dry in summer. Sites 96 and 97 would be my picks if I could choose: both are private and have large camping pad areas. Avoid the sites by water spouts and roads, there is no privacy when everyone is cutting through your site! Overall, a basic campground with what you need for camping, no frills, no activities or recreation, but close to the hiking at Starved Rock State Park about 10 min away by car. Biking nearby would be an extreme sport, the roads are very narrow with extreme drop offs and no shoulder. Not for kids.

Great!

Great enviorment

Great family campground!

Always have a great time here. Easy to get around and very calm environment. Close drive to starved rock state park

Activities yes, nature-less

We had the campsite right across from the pool and the tiki bar. The site was easy to get into with help from the friendly staff. We were surprised to have a bar right outside our campsite, but with an RV running the fan all night the noise didn't bother us at all. This campground is great if you want to watch football Saturday morning with a bloody Mary in hand, and like kids activities like bingo. There was also a very good CCR cover band playing, so my kid felt like she was at a real rock concert. Pool was kept open late in September because it was warm. Overall we really enjoyed our time there. It's a great place for socializing. If you're looking for peace and quiet and natural beauty, this is not the place. We would go back for Sure- level campsite, friendly staff that let us stay late when we had a flat tire and waiting for tow, and overall experience. Easy full hook ups made it a very fun experience with lots of full timers there.

Great find for area

Clean bathrooms. Secluded from road, quiet, in forest. Friendly staff.

Great campground, close to state parks

This is a nice campground, especially for families. It would be perfect for groups of families traveling together or a reunion or something. That being said, it’s very busy during peak times with lots of children.  Dogs are allowed and lots of people bring them. Plan on making reservations in advance (especially if you need 50 amp or a space for a large RV). Sites have electric and a picnic table plus fire pit and there’s firewood for sale on site. NO alcohol is allowed. The gates are closed from 10p-8:30a so plan accordingly. We have AT&T and barely ever had service on our phones but it’s better up at the actual park  

The back part of the loop had pit toilets and there are flush toilets and showers up front along with a spigot for water. Taste of the water is ok. Dumpsters for trash are by where you pull in and out. A few notes on the bathrooms/showers:

  • Lights are not on inside the bathrooms overnight. 

  • Only two showers each for men and women. The women’s showers had a line around 8am. No lines for showers in middle of the day or around dinner time. 

  • Showers are the type where you push the button and the (hot!!) water runs for two minutes then turns off and you have to push it again. 

  • Shower area is a little bit older but toilets are fine and the sinks have soap and a hand dryer. 

RVs will probably like the inside part of the loop ok (42-53, 39-42) but I wouldn’t stay there in a tent unless you had a group and were booking multiple sites. We (tent campers) had site 50 (very similar to 46 and 48 also) and it was okay. You’re fairly close to your neighbors. Site 52 is amazing for tent campers (it’s way back from the road although still drive in) but you’re farther from your electricity there. 

Starved Rock is beautiful but can be very busy on nice weekends. There is dining at the lodge including one place open in the summer where you can bring your dog (has outdoor patio). Matthiessen  State Park is beautiful as well but get there early because by mid morning the parking can fill up. There are things to do in town as well (wineries, shopping).  If you are just going for hiking a weekend is probably a sufficient length of time to stay. 

A note on wheelchair access: the bathrooms are accessible as is the campground overall (there are paved roads) but Starved Rock and Matthiessen are both very heavy on the stairs.

First to Review
Clean & Safe Urban Campground On County Preserve

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.

Incredible!

Incredible scenery, very clean, tons to do! It’s amazing!

Tent camping near lake

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.

Incredible park

This place is fantastic. It’s no wonder millions of people come to enjoy the facility year over year. Between the waterfalls and hiking and the adjacent town. This park has it all. Bring your Harley and enjoy the roads

Nice Campground

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.

Good open place to camp

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

Great campground near a rails-to-trails type of path

This is a nice campground that winds around through some light woods. Campsites have electric hookups. There are certainly lots of picnic tables. We saw more than one per site. With only a few people camping here, there was plenty of space between campers. There is no separating vegetation though. 

A bike path in Pecatonica which is just down the road. Camp here and day trip on the bike path or use this as a stop for your long distance bike tour. 

This is a great campground to get away near a nice small town.

Beautiful park!

Beautiful park to camp. Very spacious and lots of trees for shade. A perfect spot to come and have some relaxing time away from the city. Park has trails that lead to the river. My site number was 69. I definitely will return to this park again.

Gem of a campground

Lots to do, fishing, hiking, exploring. Good size campsites with nice shade trees. Close to all areas. Wildlife. Bait shop and camp store. Was there on 4th of July excellent fireworks display.

Poor 30amp electrical service

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.

Hickory Hills Primitive

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?

Summer camping

Great forests and trails! Nice for camping in that the campsites are not too close together but there are still bathrooms

Decent campground, minimal activities

The camp ground itself was decent. It was very small but was enough for a two night stay. I was disappointed in the lack of activities there were there. They have two lakes for fishing and a bike trail. Not much for hiking.

I love a nice shady camp site

We had the shade and the sites had nice people and we were near a stream, but there was a ton of poison ivy in the uncut beside the tent. Even ivy in the utility box for water and electricity.