The best HIKE IN camping near
University Park , ILLINOIS

66 Reviews9 Campgrounds

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Most Recent University Park Camping Reviews
Clean & Spacious

We pulled in around 4:30 in the evening. The sight was spacious with plenty of room in between sites. Since the weather was cooler , it was pretty sparse with other campers. We stayed 2 nights over the weekend. You are within walking distance to the beach within the park. The buildings have great architecture. The sight had 50 amp electric hook ups but no water or sewer connections, and we knew that going in. We had a back in sight #69. There was plenty of space on all sides. We have a 37’ motorhome and pulled a Jeep behind it. There was plenty of room to maneuver around. The sight also had a wood picnic table and fire ring for a wood fire pit. We will definitely be back! I wish I had taken more photos from the beach and beach pavilion.

Nice layout and a ton of nature activities

The state park is located within the boundaries of the Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly National Lakeshore), so don't get confused by this. There also is a national park campground, but it's closed in the winter.)

This state park has a nice layout because the sites seem to be staggered so that they don't back up to each other. Also, there is a good buffer space behind the sites and decent space between each site. 

All sites have 20- 30- and 50-amp service available, plus almost all are a combination of a concrete pad and asphalt apron. Note that just because they're paved doesn't mean all of them are level. Each site has a fire pit and it appeared they all have grill grates on them.

One nice touch is that some sites have wider asphalt aprons so if you have a longer rig, you can put your towing vehicle or your towed vehicle off to the side once your rig is in place. Also, the ADA sites are nicely laid out with larger concrete pads so that even the fire pits are in the concrete section for ease of access. 

Note that after Nov. 1, the water is shut off and bathrooms are shut down until spring, although there are vault toilets available. 

You will hear a pretty regular stream of train whistles at this campground, but they aren't so loud as to be disruptive. 

You can hike to the 1929 Dunes Pavilion and a large beach on Lake Michigan. The best hiking activity, however, and also easily accessible by walking from the campground, is the series of dune trails. The Nature Center, which sits between the campground and the trails, has some good visitor's information about the dunes, the flora and fauna, and the history of the area. 

Once you finish seeing what you want in the state park, there's still the entire national park to see. Plus, there's a multi-use trail that runs for 9 miles along the state park and into the national park. 

Cell service for Verizon was two bars but speeds seem to be good. Less signal and speed for Google Fi, but not terrible.

Nice State Park Campground

This campground was very nice and clean and for a packed park was very quiet and we did not feel too close to the sites next to us.  We spent 2 nights here and went mountain biking at Imagination Glen Park in Portage just a few miles down the road which was awesome.  We stopped for a beer at Chesterton and Hunter's Breweries.  The sunset on Lake Michigan from the dunes was awesome.  We walked between the state and national parks.  This was originally a convenience stop along our route but I was impressed with the parks and everything there was to do, very glad we crossed this National Park off the list!

PROS: was very clean, well spread out, had a bathhouse, firewood and basics for sale.  Nice hike to the dunes and Lake Michigan with several trails to choose from.  There is also the Dunes-Kankakee bike trail that leads from the park and ties to the Calumet trail that also connects to several other trails offering miles of bike trail options.  Two dump stations made wait minimal.

CONS: not a whole lot, as is with most IN state parks there is no water hookup so you need to fill you tank up but it was set up really nice.

Did not really scout out an "ideal" site since they all seemed nice and pretty spread out for a state park.  I liked our end of the park that was close to walking path to dunes and beach.

NOTE: This was our second IN State Park campground(first was Clifty Falls) as part of out trip from GA to MN via TN-KY-IN-MI-WI-northern MN before staying in MSP for a week, then return via MN-IA-MO-IL-KY-TN-Home.

Cozy little paradise

I love this camp site.  It’s a great place to set up the tent, enjoy the fire, look for animas, and stargaze!  You are only a short, but difficult, hike up and down the dunes before you have a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.  Pack a lunch and enjoy it on top of the dunes!

Nice, quiet little place

We stayed here for a weekend. It's a nice place. Campsites are flat. The water hookups are kind of far from the individual sites (make sure you have extra hose).

Nice experience, but some drawbacks


- Great job marketing and managing the 3 Dunes Challenge. Loved the shirts and the vinyl stickers (available for purchase at the Visitor's Center).

- Clean park with not a lot of trash to pick up

- Felt safe with lots of COVID masks and face coverings by both staff and guests

- Nature Center and camp store was not staffed for a few days we were there (we were told due to budget cuts and COVID).

- Some staff appeared to be more interested in their phones than greeting us and answering questions.

Expensive RV park for non-residents

Not worth the drive here to tent camp if you live outside of Kane county. Even their 9 hike-in primitive sites hugging the treeline lack privacy. Yes, all the sites are very flat. It's a nice field if that's what you look for in a campground.

Not a bad spot for 2 nights

We came in on Sunday at check in time and it was wicked busy as 5 pm check in on Sunday’s is also 5 pm checkout. The spots are pretty level and paved however they are are fairly close to each other and there is no privacy between the spots around you. We don’t mind that however! The facilities are well taken care of and the people in the front office to answer questions and help with check in were really nice.

The only 2 issues I had with our spot (97) we were almost directly in-front of a large dumpster so all day people walk by and throw their trash in. And Monday morning at around 750 the dumpster service came around and that was very loud. Another issue with the campsite is there is a train near the state park. It runs all day it seems but especially in the morning you can hear it from 6 am onward. I don’t particularly mind it but it did wake me up a few times especially if you are tent camping or have pop outs.

The state park has a lot of trails through the swampy woods and out to the dunes which are really cool. Some are 5 miles long while others are .75. There is also a short walk to the actual lake which is nice as well.

All in all this state park is a 4/5! Great hiking trails, predominantly quiet besides the trash and train, friendly neighbors!

Big sites!

Nice campground with big, level sites. Even though they don’t take reservations, there is plenty of space and availability. Lovely grasslands, ponds, hiking trails, but the lack of trees and privacy isn’t my preference. Still great option not far from Chicago.