Marisa A.


Elk Grove Village, IL

Joined August 2020

A life-long camping fanatic. From backpacking to car camping, as a "tent camper" I look for campsites with privacy, great views, and few other campers

Weekend Camping with lots of activities

For years, this was our go-to campground for weekend nearby adventures. Over the years, the price has increased and at $30 per site for non-residents, it's a bit steep for tent camping for me (so I left off a star rating). All sites are electric, so if you are tent camping and want your fan or slow-cooker, then it's as good as it gets in the burbs. It's located in a beautiful wooded Dupage County Forest preserve. While the sites are pretty close together, there are a few good ones that feel more secluded. Designated chip bark tent sites are level. The grounds are very well maintained. While I didn't camp here this year, I took these photos the last weekend in October to give everyone a sense of how nice this campground could be for them. My favorite sites over the years were the ones closest to Silver Lake along the South Loop road because those sites have the best views. For privacy, my favorite site is #27 on the north loop road which makes you feel like you are alone in the woods. Other than plenty of hiking options including a big hill, the fishing is outstanding. There are lots of places along the lake and ponds to get an easy catch and release. There is also archery, a dog park, picnic areas, boat rental/ramp, and a compass course. It is a great place for families. I've brought cub scouts here and my kids' friends. Heads-up that sites 21 & 22 may not be able to see traffic on the busy Winfield Rd in the summer, but you will still hear it at those sites.

640 acres of trails, field, woods, and pond

This is a Lutheran kids camp that offers a place for families to come and camp. Sometimes there are family retreats planned where you can bring your tent or trailer and camp in designated campsites in a tranquil meadow. You don't have to be Lutheran, but you should be respectful of this special place. No alcohol. I grew up camping here with family friends. Later I worked here teaching outdoor education to gradeschoolers. There are over 640 acres of meadow, forest, and stocked pond. I'm not sure if it's still there, but there used to be a challenging obstacle course up a steep hill, over a wood wall with stations in the woods. It is a quick 5 minute drive to downtown Americana Oregon, Il and heads and tails more private and tranquil than White Pines State Park.

Centrally Located Shenandoah NP Campground

This was a great campground location to many, many National Park Trails. Our stay was during the last week of September. We met up with family who live in the area and got 3 sites hugging the AT. We pitched two large tents on our E178 site and a hammock in the trees just beyond our fire pit. My brother had a large tent on site E177 and it was just as nice. Our third site E176 was across the road from us flanked by travel trailer campers. That site had less privacy, but gave us a shorcut path to the running water bathroom. There was a sign in the bathroom that said it was ok to pour filter dishwater down the toilets, so we did that quite a bit to keep our campsites clean and safe from bears. My favorite sites were E177 and E178. They were a good size and distance from the other sites. We were close to the water pump and running water bathrooms. The pay showers were a bit of a walk from us, but they were clean. We liked having a nearby store, visitor's center, and gas station at this campground. In the evenings we went to the big meadow to watch the wildlife a few nights.Site E178 had great sunrise vistas through the trees. We positioned our chairs to face the valley and pretended there wasn't a packed campground full of families. It was actually pretty peaceful until the weekend which got rowdy at full capacity.The parking pad is level, on E178 but the grassy area was slightly sloped for our tents. I thought it was not too bad of a tradeoff for the view, but if you've ever slid down on your pad or cot a bit, you might not like it. My brother was at the adjoining site E177 and while his parking pad had a slight slope, he had a fairly level spot for his big tent.

There were bear lockers at each site (about 50 in x 34 in) and we never had any bears visit while we were there. The bear lockers were great for us since we were tent camping and our vehicle was a pickup truck, so we did not have to juggle messing with coolers/food in the truck cab. Deer came through the campground every morning right up to our tents, which was delightful, except it made me paranoid checking for ticks every night. I really enjoyed being right off the Appalachian Trail and enjoyed seeing a few through-hikers each day while we made campfire feasts.

We brought USDA wood and another camper gave us a few cords of USDA wood he brought from GA when he left. We did purchase one bundle from the campground and it was pretty green, so it burned smokey. The cost was about the same as it is at Lowes or anywhere else like that. We enjoyed multiple hikes and had a group with different hiking abilities, but there were many great Shendoah sites to see that we all could enjoy, including the group's dogs. Shenandoah is one of the few National Parks that allows dogs on most of the trails (leashed of course.) We had two dogs in our group and enjoyed seeing the other dogs in the campground. There was only one instance when we noticed someone bagged their dog poop on a trail, but left the poop in the bag. People!

Because of Covid-19, the ranger programs at this campground were cancelled. I would return again, but maybe choose dispersed camping for a better view and less people.

First to Review
Dispersed Camping best off Horseback Trails

We arrived late at night wishing we had better cell reception and a paper map of the National Forest. We were grateful to have the Dyrt's info downloaded on my chromebook. Even still, Wayne National Forest is a maze of public and private land. The Ironton Campground has been closed during 2020 as part of a water main line break. We initially tried the Hanging Rock OHV trailhead, but locals used that area for partying when we were there and it wasn't ideal to camp at the trailhead with about a dozen cars speeding along the gravel roads around midnight. We found the Sand Hill Trail head and pitched camp not too far from where we parked. The NF website says fires are allowed if you make a stone ring. We just skipped it. It is a very pretty area along Vesuvius Lake with trees and bluffs. We saw a ranger in the morning and he suggested next time we just camp at the horsecamp. The pins on the Dyrt's map were inaccurately located when we were using it with multiple entries. Next time I will purchase a paper map before I go because Wayne National Forest has alot of private lands interspersed and it is not all that clear without an official map. Hopefully the Dyrt will get better at hyper locating those lines.

Turner Lake South and Mud Lake East most private

This IL state campground fills up quickly on the weekends over the summer. The best sites for those hoping for privacy are in Turner Lake South and Mud Lake East. The campsites are a little bigger in Turner Lake South, I feel, but both have campsites circled by woods with a level place to pitch a tent. While these sites are usually slated for walk-ups on the weekends, it seems like a lot of people go early on Thursday or even Wednesday to secure their sites for the weekends. Both loops have an outhouse and water spigot nearby and are a quick drive to the showerhouse. The shower houses are dated, yet I have seen them clean and also not clean on busy camper weekends. All the campsites have raised firepits and a picnic table. If you own a boat or love to fish, this is a great place to go camping. They rent some little fishing boats here too if you want to get off the shore. Chain O Lakes in general get pretty busy on the water, but the state park is off the main part of the water system, so even a little fishingboat can be fun without the large speedboat wakes here.

Great Place to Picnic but there are better places to camp

I drove out here from the Chicago area this last nice weather weekend in October 2020. I haven't been here in years, but as every campground in Illinois was booked-up from everyone getting out during the pandemic, I took a chance on the few walk up sites still available according to Reserve Amereica. They were open, but I took a hard pass. I forgot about the "ford" crossing into the campground. It's where the water crosses the road about a foot high. My husband would have been joining me later, and I knew he would not have been happy seeing that on his motorcycle. The few walkup sites still available were in the Sunny Crest loop. I've never seen so many people camping so close together. The sites all had some form of firepit. Some had a table, but many didn't. There were hundreds of people camping on hilly terrain. It looked like a music festival, only without music and lots of families who looked like they had never been outside before so they were set up about 15 feet apart. Even if the campground would have been empty, all of the tent sites are in the open right next to the next one. Winnebago county forest preserve has a few campgrounds nearby that are much more private. This kind of "camping" is not for me.

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.

Beautiful IL woods and prairie

Limited to weekend camping, but spread out private-like tent sites. Camp hosts are super engaged and seem to love being caretakers. Hand pumps for water and well-kept pit toilets. Hiking galore! My "leashed" dog loves this place, as do I.

Oceanside City Campground in Seward

We were in a rented rv making a last minute stay over in Seward.  They had last minute room to boondock in an adjacent parking lot, which was also full in August. We stayed 2 nights, the second in an rv site in Resurrection. We saw some tents, but rv sites are located along the water. Even though sites are close together everyone minded their manners while we were here. There is a blacktop path that leads to the must-see Alaska Sea Life Center. The campground is also close to boat excirsions and restaurants at the dock. Pay shower, clean bathrooms, and a dump station. It was a peaceful stay with an awesome view of the ocean.

Tranquil Bellingham Camping Spot

Clean campground in the rainforest along Chuckanut Drive. I visited in March and the pay showers were free during the colder months. Super hot showers were a delight. The campground is close to the train tracks and although you can't see them from the campsites, a middle of the night distant train horn will go off. While it's a beautiful forest campground, the campsites are pretty close together and not very private. I found one of a few grassy area sites suitable to pitch a tent, but it seemed to me that most of the sites were intended for small travel travelers as the parking pads looked about 20-30 feet of level pads. I would definitely come back again if I visit Bellingham, mainly because it is just outside town.

Nice Family Campground for fishing

I have tent camped here for years. Sometimes we've even just come to fish for the day. I've caught bass and trout mainly along with some small perch and sunfish. The campground gets busy during the summer, but being an ILDNR state-run campground it's open all year with more limited amenities in the off-season. In the summer I like the reservable sites (119-116) overlooking the lake in Canvasback Cove. Across the same loop wooded sites (136-141) offer a little more privacy with less of any kind of view. Those are my favorite sites to camp with little kids because they are close to the "stocked" kids fishing pond which makes them feel so happy to easily catch a little fish. They become fishermen/ladies for life. They are not near the bathhouse though which is just a quick walk or drive.

In the off season, Canvasback Cove is not usually closed like the other side of the campground. Without little kids in the colder months, I still camp at those sites. One year I made the mistake of camping at 117 in December. I have no problem winter camping, but that time of year the winds blow over the semi-frozen lake making it about 20 degrees colder.

During the summer the campground is often packed. I hear some sites are better than others and of course you never know how rowdy people can get. 

Still the fishing is awesome and you can bring your own boat or rent one, so on the water it's pretty tranquil if you love to fish.

Pines Overlook Loop BEST Mark Twain NF tent sites

We stayed at sites 45 and 46 in the pines overlook loop with our 2 tents. There really is only room for one tent at each site in the grass. The mountain views were outstanding! The camp friendly host "Buddy"  has dry firewood cheaper than the uncovered wood up the road from the locals. Shaded, grassy, and very private except for the occasional visitors who drive up the road to see the overlook near these two campsites. There is a vault toilet close by, but at the overlook site we could not find the water spigot, but we brought water with us for dispersed camping anyway. There are plenty of trails and a short drive down to the cool Huzzah river creek. Outstanding!

Fantastic Camping that allows a deeper drive into the National Park

My husband and I stayed here in a rented rv for the most memorable camping experience of my life. The kids used our site as a base camp of familial safety for their backcountry permitted camping excursions. Sure enough after a hard rain, my college aged children hiked back to our site soaked head to foot after a big downpour and once-in-a-lifetime adventures. I ruined everyone's shoes trying to dry them on the fire too quickly. I should have heated rocks and put them inside the shoes with paper, but I was trying to hurry before it rained again.

We used our internal bus pass extensively, but this site is close enough to the river for taking lunch hikes along the park service road. While the sites are fairly close together, we were on an end unit and felt isolated enough from anyone else.

This was my second trip to Denali and I am glad I chose a further-in campground. I can't wait to go back.

Small Town Americana City Park

This park is a testament to Gibson City Midwest hospitality. There are 9 asphalt pads with one pull thru and ada compliant. These sites have large trees scattered in the park, but it is anything but private. If you are ok with being "on display" for the friendly town, go register and pay at the police station a few blocks over. (It used to be on the honor system- but apparently some campers were less than honorable.)

Nearby things you should try to experience: antique shops, an awesome authentic German restaurant called the Bayern Stube with steins of German beer, a farm supply store to mix with the locals, County Market local grocery chain, Subway/McDonalds if you need that, and you must visit the old-timey Drive-In movie theater Harvest Moon for a throw back to the fifties. Charming. Squeekey clean. There are no showers, but if it's open, there is a community pool across the street.

Busy Central Illinois Campground on a lake

This is our go-to campground when visiting the U of I. It is a large campground with well spaced campsites for tents and rvs. Almost every site has plenty of shade with lots of tree cover. This also means in the dog days of summer the breeze is blocked by the trees so get an electric site even with a tent and bring a fan. They have a beach and a boat launch. The loops that allow alcohol can get a bit rowdy with weekend partiers, but the alcohol restricted loops can get loud from all the families. However, with full hook-up options there is no generator noise. The showers/bathrooms are kept up well given the massive amount of people served. If you own a boat and camp, this place is ideal for central Illinois.

First to Review
Standard small town RV Park

Super nice owners of this driving range with campsites. It's extremely close to the popular Lake of the Woods Forest preserve. We've camped here in tents with no problems, but it is mainly for RV stop overs from I74. It is a close drive or walk to hiking, or small town amenities like Filippo's family owned Sicilian pizza (excellent) or a little further to Casey's gas station. A 2 minute car ride to more restaurants downtown Mahomet, a grocery store, and Dollar General.

Great value Chicago suburb campsite

I've camped here four different occasions this 2020 covid-19 year. The staff are super nice and the campground has great social distancing rules in place for the check-in shack and bathrooms. It is a super clean campground with multiple hosts and forest preserve staff. There are a large number of RV pads overlooking the prairie and a few along a grove of trees. I was lucky once to see the equestrian area full of campers with their horses. There are 9 walk-in tent sites about 10-20 yards from parking (the two at the end p7 and p9 are connected for groups that know each other). There are multiple ada sites and two "walk-in/ie roll-in" site in the tent-only area. It's a good mix of young people, retired people, and families. I've seen weekends with mainly RVs and one weekend with a quarter of the drive-in sites being tents. The most shaded sites are p1,3,5,7 and 9. Many of the sites in the middle are wide open with little shade but nice summer breezes. Prices are a great deal if you live in Kane county but still worth the trip if you live in another county. Firewood is $7 for about .75 cu ft (what you can fit in a milk crate.) There are a few trails and I've seen lots of butterflies, gold finches, hawks, deer, flocks of giant sandhill cranes, rabbits, ground squirrels, and of course actual squirrels. Lots of people (including me) bring their leashed dogs. The other campers have been polite and friendly. I wish there was more distance between sites in the water/electrical loops for more privacy, but I'd go every weekend if I lived in Kane county because it would be worth the resident price even tho there are so many RVs. Because there is electrical it is a peaceful campground with no generator noise.

Secluded Hike-in Tent Campsites on the Kish

This is where to go if you don't like pitching a tent in a field of RVs. There is one wheelchair accessible tent site on a blacktop path in the forest canopy. This is a very primative campground with 1 set of Vault toilets. The other campsites require a walk/hike along a gravel path for completely wooded sites or cross a football sized meadow for open air sites. There are several well-water pumps "not for drinking." Each campsite has a fire pit and a picnic table. Pack out your garbage for the dumpster in the parking lot. There are only 9 sites total. VERY private and secluded. Tents only! Massive forest preserve area for excellent hiking. Some fellow campers were doing a diy tubing right to the campground. (About a 2 hr lazy river tube from Kingston or 5hrs from Genoa on the slow moving S. Branch of the Kishwaukee River which can be pretty deep in places.) Absolutely NO ALCOHOL. Cost for tent sites is only $4 per tent or tent-like structure. There are primitive cabins for rent and a large lodge if you rented the structure for an event here. By their facebook page, it looks like there have been beautiful weddings here. This is a former scout camp flanked by more forest preserves. The ranger is very nice and the entrance is locked from sunset to sunrise. I hesitated even posting this tent-camping primitive heaven, because I almost want to keep it for myself and the locals. Please practice leave no trace and follow the rules if you go so this place stays open. Dog friendly, but must be leashed all of time or a $50 fine. My dog loved the trails and river crossings! Gorgeous hidden gem about an hour into cornfield country from Chicago NW suburbs like Woodfield Mall. I had cell service at one spot in the parking lot, but it was fleeting with T-mobile. A fellow camper had the best private spot (#2) which other than the ada site was the best because it was closest to the parking lot, yet she still had a festival/yard cart to pull her gear up a gravel path. Make sure you bring yours or are outfitted with backpacking gear. Like anywhere, prevent insect deforestation and don't bring firewood, it's fine, they have plenty.