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We have camped here twice and it is beautiful in any season! Great privacy and good size sites in the northern east loop. Around site #100 (90-110 approximately). We looked up a drive through on YouTube to help pick out a good one. The second time we came here, we intentionally picked a pair of sites that were next to each other/connected and also by the bathrooms. The port a potties are nothing amazing and they were actually getting full the first night we were there, but then they were taken care of. Great hiking, scenic views, good playground by the showers. Will definitely be back again and again.
General: 133 site campground in two loops; we camped in the East Loop so most of my comments are regarding this loop. The very friendly attendant at the check-in booth (this is potentially luck of the draw) spent time answering all our questions.
Sites/Facilities: Many of the sites are fairly close together but have trees separating them. All in the East Loop are shaded except for Sites 59-68 and 128-130, which are in full sun with no physical separation between them. The driveways are all dirt/gravel and most appear to be level. Most of the sites are 30 amp with about 20 of them having 50 amp. All sites have a large picnic table and fire grate. Each loop has a bath/shower house but depending on which site you are in, it can be quite a hike to get to it. Of note is there are seven handicap accessible sites, all in the west loop – more than I’ve seen in any other campground.
Bathhouse: The East Loop bathhouse was ok but not great (could use a facelift). Was going to use the shower but it was very chilly the next morning (I was assured at check-in that there was plenty of hot water). There are more than sufficient vault toilets, including a handicap accessible one, in each loop.
Activities/Amenities: There is a camp “store” (more of a trailer vending machine) offering 24-hour self-serve ice and firewood. There was also a small gift shop, but it was not open when we were there. There is only one playground, at the end of the East Loop so not centrally located for campers. One dumpster (closer to the west loop) and the camp host is in the west loop.
Conclusion: My main beef with this campground is that it is quite a distance away from the rest of the park and is not accessible to the hiking trails, visitor center, etc. by foot. (although some see this as an advantage!) Not the fault of the campground but I was dismayed at the amount of trash in sites (as well as on the hiking trails).
We visited the first weekend in November so we still had some leave to peep. The weather was unusually warm and beautiful so we were able to hike both days of our visit but it was packed with people who had the same idea. Also, as we left the park to go to our campsite (around 2 PM) the camp was getting a rush of afternoon hikers. The place is busy!!!
The campsite itself is off the State Park premises,which isn’t bad since it’s not swarmed park attendees not spending the night. It has an electrical hookup on each campground for RVs. There is also a bathroom with running showers and toilets, pretty nice. And there is a camp store (which is currently closed for the season). The campsites themselves vary in size and fire station. Our campsite was a little small but if you want fully forested campsites I suggest you keep your choices between #s 30 and 100.
We had a blast, the state park itself was fantastic, plenty to see. Starved Rock and the other peaks were fantastic and Wildcat Canyon was a sight to behold. Illinois Canyon is huge and worth the visit. I understand that with the spring runoff there are many waterfalls to behold. We plan on coming back then. Great place to camp!!!
If you want more trees and privacy stick to the east loop if you want more flat land that is easy to drive up and camp, go to the west loop. The Camp store is cute but tiny. There is also a vending machine by the bathhouse and a 24/7 wood vending machine by the camp store.
3 state parks are within a 5-10 minute drive making early morning hiking very easy. Welcome to the Disney Land of outdoors!
The campground itself is off of Starved Rock’s main entrance but we think it’s perfect because I don’t need that much traffic with cars and people constantly walking/driving by. I do wish there were walking trails off the campground though.
Overall a decent place to stay. We didn't experience the noise some reviewers did, but there's not much in between sites on the western loop. Trees surround the loop, and it appears the eastern look has more secluded sites. My biggest complaint was the sites don't appear to be well maintained, and previous campers didn't do a good job of cleaning up after themselves. Lots of plastic bottle tops, small pieces of paper towel, etc were all over the place. Too bad since it's an otherwise nice place.
I think this place attracts a lot of junkies and drunks.
Can get noisy at night.
This review is for the backpacking campsites within the Sand Ridge forest. The trail is a mix of sand and soil. It’s quite an unexpected discovery in Illinois. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail but we saw cars parked so hikers were out there.
We stopped at 2 different campsites. They are just a short distance off the trail. Each was a small clearing with forest right up to the edge. A fire pit is also available. All the backpacking sites were empty so it seems that lots of options are possible.
We didn’t come across water sources so we asked the ranger. He pointed out a couple spots the have spigots or hand pumps. Be sure to have a water supply before heading out.
The longest loop is just under 15 miles but you can do different loops together to increase mileage. There is prickly pear in this area so be careful where you step. We also were told to avoid a trail because it was sandy and a tough climb. The man said he breaks horses by riding them up the hill. If this is a concern, I recommend asking around to find the best trail for you.
This is a hidden gem right in the middle of Illinois.