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.
Overall nice campground. Hosts are friendly and I saw rangers driving through multiple times. Each site includes picnic table and fire pit. Most have electric.
The toilets in the back part by the electric campsites are pit toilets. Flush toilets, sink, and showers up by the check in area. There’s a playground for kids.
Sites by the river don’t have much shade. Sites by the tracks are the most “wooded” but also right near the trains. Trains are noisy—we slept through them but are also used to living by a train station. Your mileage may vary on that one.
We (tent campers) had site 24. It’s the last site in that part of the driveway and I recommend it because you have a lot of open space to one side plus not far from water or bathrooms. The most wooded sites are at the end farthest away from the entrance but tent campers should know there are a lot of RVs down there usually.
We used this as a stop over on a longer road trip. If you like boating or fishing this is probably a good fit. Galena and Dubuque are not far. Overall not a lot of hiking or activities in the immediate area though. Good option for an overnight.
As a note, we have ATT and had decent cell service here.