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Best Campsites Near Me: Chicago

Complete Guide to the Best Campsites Near Chicago: Frontcountry and Developed Campsites - Reserve Early!


A beautiful horizon spotted with clouds over Lake Michigan at Illinois Beach State Park near Chicago, Illinois

Illinois Beach State Park, IL - Photo Credit: Peter Ciro


 

Wintertime may not leave you feeling inspired to get outdoors to go hiking or camping, but it's the perfect time to start planning trips for the warmer months! Pathloom is here to help - Use our All-in-One outdoor adventure travel planning app to discover new hiking trails leading to new developed and dispersed campsites throughout the entire country! Click the link to join thousands in our open BETA testing today!



 


It may not feel like camping weather right now, but rest assured people are already itching to get outdoors, and are making reservations for camping trips months in advance! Read on to discover the best campgrounds in the Chicago area, and reserve your site today! Or, if you're feeling particularly ambitious, there are a few on our list that are open for camping RIGHT NOW!



Chicago is a city that never sleeps, and it’s easy to get pulled into the charm of the concrete jungle. Especially since the city is one of the Midwest’s only major metropolises. But sometimes, you just want to unplug, get some fresh air, and get back in touch with nature. While many people don’t think of outdoor adventures when they think of the Windy City, there are actually quite a few campgrounds in the area – most less than a two-hour drive – that are perfect for just that.


So whether you’re looking for a night out of town or a long weekend getaway, we’re here to help you plan your next camping trip with these campsites near Chicago! From Starved Rock State Park to Indiana Dunes National Park (that’s right, you can even cross another National Park off your bucket list), it’s time to pack up those tents and sleeping bags and unwind under the stars.



Best Frontcountry/Developed Campgrounds Near Chicago:

Campground Name

Season

Fees

# of Sites

Location

Reservations

Apr - Dec

$25/ night

241

Northern Illinois, along the shore of Lake Michigan (47.4 miles from Chicago)

May - Oct

$25/ night

110

Bourbonnais, Kankakee Country (60 miles from Chicago)

Year Round

$25/ night

129

Situated on the Illinois River (96.1 miles from Chicago)

Year Round

$10/ night

103

Ogle Country, Illinois (108 miles from Chicago)

Jan - Oct

$12-35/ night

230

Northwest Lake County (67 miles from Chicago)

Year Round

$20-27/ night

423

Baraboo, Wisconsin (189 miles from Chicago)

Apr - Oct

$25/ night

66

Northwestern Indiana (46 miles from Chicago)


 

a striking coastline just north of Chicago along Lake Michigan at Illinois Beach State Park near Chicago, Illinois

Illinois Beach State Park, IL - Photo Credit: Mike Steele



Best Beach Camping: Illinois Beach State Park


Stretching for 6.5 miles along the shore of Lake Michigan, Illinois Beach State Park is by far one of the best campsites if you’re looking to spend some time working on your tan and getting your swim on. In fact, due to rampant erosion it’s the only natural beach ridge shoreline left in the state. The park itself boasts plenty of opportunities for swimming, biking, hiking, fishing, and boating.


Although there are over 241 sites, if you’re looking for a beach getaway you’ll want to reserve early, as this is one of the most popular campsites near Chicago. Luckily, reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance.

 

A rocky river and wooded coast in Kankakee River State Park near Chicago Illinois

Kankakee River State Park, IL - Photo Credit: John Iwanski



Best For Animal Lovers: Kankakee River State Park


Kankakee River State Park sits on 4,000 acres of land, which provides plenty of room for multiple different campsites. The most popular of the sites is the Potawatomi Campground, which has 110 sites and is open from April through October. However, Chippewa is a close second, though it is currently closed until further notice. Like many other campsites, water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are extremely popular. But the star of the show is horseback riding, thanks to the Kankakee Riding Stables. The experienced wranglers offer trail rides, pony rides, horse rides, riding lessons for beginners, and more.

 

A tall, beautiful waterfall cascades down canyon walls at Starved Rock State Park near Chicago Illinois

French Canyon: Starved Rock State Park, IL - Photo Credit: Joseph Gage



Best Views: Starved Rock State Park


If you’re searching for photogenic camping that looks as if it belongs on a postcard, look no further than Starved Rock State Park. It features 18 glacier-created canyons full of moss-covered sandstone walls, waterfalls, sandstone overhangs, and an abundance of scenic overlooks. There are 129 campsites, all open year-round, with access to flush toilets and electricity. After a busy day of hiking, canoeing, or fishing, these are a welcome luxury you’re sure to appreciate.

 

a shallow brook runs through White Pines Forest State Park near Chicago Illinois

White Pines Forest State Park, IL - Photo Credit: Kevin Key



Best For Families: White Pines Forest State Park


White Pines Forest State Park is one of the oldest parks in Illinois, and has remained beloved by families since it first opened back in 1927. It sits on 385 acres and is surrounded by beautiful forest groves, colorful wildflowers, and moss-covered cliffs. Although there are more than 100 campsites to choose from, it is a popular spot, so reservations are recommended to ensure that you can snag a spot. However, if your preferred dates are booked up, you can also opt for a cozy cabin stay at White Pines Inn.

 

a bird does some serious birding among the reeds along the coast of Chain O' Lakes State Park near Chicago Illinois

Chain O' Lakes State Park, IL - Photo Credit: Michael Kappel



Best For Water Enthusiasts: Chain O’ Lakes


As one of the biggest parks on this list – sitting at 6,023 acres – Chain O’ Lakes State Park is well-known for being a water-oriented recreation area. There are three large natural lakes and seven smaller ones, all great for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and water skiing. There are two Class A-Premium sites (sites that include electricity, showers, and vehicular access), and three Class B-Premium sites (sites that do not include electric hookups), for a total of 230 campsites - meaning you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a spot when you’re looking to get away.

 

An eerie rocky archway overlooks an evil lake in Devil's Lake State Park, relatively near Chicago Illinois

Devil's Doorway: Devil's Lake State Park - Photo Credit: Tom Gill



Best Hiking: Devil’s Lake State Park


This may be one of the furthest parks from the city, but you’ll find that it’s well worth the 3.5-hour drive the minute you see Devil’s Lake – a body of water that was created from a glacier during the last ice age. The state park is 360 acres and home to nearly 30 miles of hiking trails throughout the quartzite bluffs, making it the perfect spot for hiking enthusiasts of all levels. When you’re not hiking or spending your days on the water, you can visit the nearby circus museum, created after the Ringling Bros. made their headquarters in nearby Baraboo in the 1940s.

 

Extremely un-Indiana looking sand dunes all along the coastline of Lake Michigan in Indiana Dunes National Park near Chicago Illinois

Indiana Dunes National Park, IN - Photo Credit: Matthew Dillon



Best For National Park Lovers: Indiana Dunes National Park


Did you know that there’s a National Park less than an hour outside of Chicago? In fact, Indiana Dunes National Park – designated in 2019 – is one of the most underrated National Parks in the country. Where else can you walk on glacial dunes that reach up to 250 feet high, swim in a 300-mile-long lake, and cross-country ski in the winter, all in the same place?


The park has one campsite, Dunewood, which offers 66 wooded sites with fire rings and flush toilets. But if you can’t find availability there, you can also try Indiana Dunes State Park Campground (less than 7 miles away from Dunewood), which is close to the beach, has electrical hookups, and even has modern showers and bathrooms available!

 

Plan Your Next Camping Trip near Chicago with Pathloom


Itching to plan your next camping trip near Chicago? We don’t blame you after seeing these incredible sites. Let Pathloom help make your dream camping trip come to life. Our job is to discover hiking trails, campsites, and everything you need for your future adventures. Ready to get started? Join thousands of other campers and download the app today.


 

Wintertime may not leave you feeling inspired to get outdoors to go hiking or camping, but it's the perfect time to start planning trips for the warmer months! Pathloom is here to help - Use our All-in-One outdoor adventure travel planning app to discover new hiking trails leading to new developed and dispersed campsites throughout the entire country! Click the link to join thousands in our open BETA testing today!



 


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