The Best State Parks in Illinois and The Must-Know Before Camping

The Best State Parks in Illinois and The Must-Know Before Camping

Camping possesses numerous beneficial effects on your health. With innumerable benefits, it boats positive effects on your physical and mental wellbeing. Camping is a means of reconnecting with your inner self and achieving inner peace. 

Going away from the asthma-inducing hustle and bustle of city life means being able to breathe fresh air in the presence of trees and other greeneries; this is a good practice for your lungs and nose. Furthermore, regular camping away from the city reduces oxidative stress since lesser exposure to environmental pollutants, together with a healthy lifestyle, contributes to the development of free radicals that combat oxidative cells. Also, activities like camping boost your serotonin and dopamine levels. Overall, camping is an ideal stress-reducing activity.    

With all those reasons, I find it hard to fathom why you would not give your camping plans the green light. What’s better than experiencing the benefits of camping in the state parks of Illinois?

Visiting Illinois Campgrounds

Visiting Illinois Campgrounds
(Photo lifted from BLUEPRINT by bluebackground)

Beyond the affluent shopping areas and towering skyscrapers of metropolitan Chicago are the breathtaking landscapes of Illinois that await your arrival. The state is more than just a windy city; it is also a place where you can enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, biking, and other fun activities, and you indulge your eyes in the picturesque scenery. 

The state has four regions and countless elegant natural wonders. The state of Illinois consists of the Northern, Western, Central, and Southern regional divisions. These regions offer numerous options for grand state parks. Hence, reasons become endless when one justifies why he chooses state parks in one of Illinois’s areas as his camping destination. 

Beyond Chicago’s sophisticated city lights are the majestic wonders of nature that await you in Illinois. The greeneries of Kankakee River Park and the Starved Rock State Park’s pristine waterfalls or Starved Rock State Park’s sandstone canyons are just a few of the many breathtaking sceneries waiting to welcome.

RV camping in Illinois’ state parks provides you with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to interact with mother nature. In every angle, you can find eye-capturing sceneries that shall make your serene moment a more enjoyable one. There are numerous positive reasons why you should give your Illinois camping plan the green light. 

The Best Illinois State Parks

The Best Illinois State Parks
(Credits to: CDM)

State parks in Illinois attract thousands of camping enthusiasts’ attention since their state parks possess natural elegance. Apart from renowned beauty, these state parks contain historical sites that bear witness to thousands of Americans’ lives. This article shall guide you in choosing the ultimate campground in Illinois that shall suit your camping needs and wants by providing you with the vital facts and figures for each campground.

VISITING THE PERE MARQUETTE STATE PARK

Visiting the Pere Marquette State Park
(Photo lifted from Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

Situated at 13112 Visitor Center Ln, Grafton is the Pere Marquette State Park. The place boasts an 8050-acre landmass near Grafton City at the Mississippi River’s confluence and the Illinois River. The campground is an ideal spot to enjoy birds chirping or eagle watching. 

 Archeological artifacts such as spear points, planting tools, and pottery fragments suggest that six native American cultural groups existed in the region. The gorgeous park was once the center of the lives of native Americans. The landforms were the avenue of the first peoples’ day-to-day affairs such as hunting, gathering, and making homes. The park’s name came from a French missionary who arrived in Illinois in 1673, Pere Jacques Marquette.   

The Pere Marquette State Park boasts its forest trails, hiking trails, and bridle trails. Apart from offering stunning scenery for IG-worthy photos, the Illinois River provides a venue for boating, canoeing, and kayaking enthusiasts. Apart from camping, indulge yourself with activities such as fishing, hunting, biking, picnicking, horseback riding, and swimming.

The place has Class A and Class B campsites. Class A has 80 campsites that offer electrical hookups, drinking water, a shower room, and a sanitary dumping station. Two of the 80 campsites are handicap accessible. On the other hand, the Class B tent camping area also has access to the shower rooms. The Pere Marquette State Park boasts about the Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center, which has 50 guest rooms and 22 stone guest cabin rooms. The lodge has a gift shop, cocktail lounge, whirlpool, sauna, indoor swimming pool, game room, tennis court, and a conference center that can house up to 300 people. Wi-Fi is also accessible to certain areas.  

The campground is open year-round. The site has a first-come,first-Serve basis. However, campsites 2-30 are available for reservations from May to October. The rooms at the lodge, depending on availability, may entertain walk-ins; however, prior reservations are highly encouraged. The average cost of RV camping is $20 per night. The lodge’s cabin rooms cost $198 per night; the standard guest rooms cost around $158 every night. The check-in time for the campsite and the lodge is 4 in the afternoon; the checkout time is 11 in the morning.

To book your RV campsite, you may reserve through www.reserveamerica.com. Also, you can book for the lodge through www.pmlodge.net. For emergencies and other inquiries, contact 618-786-2331.

Name

Pere Marquette State Park

Address

13112 Visitor Center Ln, Grafton, Illinois

Check-in Time

4 PM

Checkout Time

11 AM

Operating Times

Year-round

Rate

  • $20 – RV Campsite
  • $158 – Standard Guest Room
  • $198 – Cabin Rooms

Hotline

618-786-2331

VISITING THE ILLINOIS BEACH STATE PARK

Visiting the Illinois Beach State Park
(Photo lifted from Pinterest, Samantha Alberti )

For beach lovers, formally known as the Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park, the Illinois Beach State Park lies at Lake Front Drive, Zion. A place is an ideal place for exploring the diverse aquatic life of the area. 

Apart from its natural elegance, the beach park boasts a historical significance. It was once an army training camp way back in World Wars I and II. In the early 19th century, the beach served as a transient place for hunters and trappers. Who would have thought that this pristine beach, a century ago, saw the tanks and soldiers in combat boots instead of recreational vehicles and children in swim fins? 

The beach park’s long stretch is suitable for health-conscious campers since the jogging and biking trails are at your perusal. If you are a fan of botany, the area is ideal for seeing the variety of over 650 plant species. The 4,160-acre beach park prides itself on the wide-ranging activities you can engage yourself in, such as kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming. 

The Class AA sites provide vehicular parking, water hookups, sewer hookups, electricity, and shower rooms for its RV campers. To stay in one of the Class AA campsites, you have to pay $25 per night. 

The campground has 244 Class A RV campsites in its southern unit area. Class A sites have picnic tables, fire pits, handicap facilities, and playgrounds. Furthermore, these sites have sewer and electrical hookups, restrooms, shower rooms, a dump station, and a camp store. The Class A campsite costs $20 per night. 

If you pay the rate of $18 per night, you can access vehicular parking and electrical hookups in Class B-E campsites. On the other hand, class B-S sites, which cost $12 per night, offers RV campers with shower rooms. The Class C sites happen to be the most affordable for only $8 per night with access to shower rooms, vehicular parking, or tent camp.

The Illinois Beach State Park operates from April to December and requires a camping permit before making reservations. The permit allows you to spend two weeks at the campsite for a month cycle. You can check-in from around 7 in the morning to 10 PM. Also, the checkout time is 3 PM. You can book through www.reserveamerica.com or by calling 847-662-4811.

Name

Illinois Beach State Park

Address

Lake Front Drive, Zion, Illinois

Check-in Time

7 AM to 10 PM

Checkout Time

3 PM

Operating Times

April-December

Rate

  • The Class AA sites (access to showers, electricity, water hookups, sewer hookups, and vehicular parking) $25 per night
  •   The Class A sites (access to showers, electricity, and vehicular parking) $20 per night
  •   Class B-E sites (access to electrical hookups and vehicular parking) $18 per night
  •   Class B-S Premium sites (access to shower areas and vehicular parking) $12 per night
  • The Class C sites (access to shower areas and vehicular parking or tent camp) $8 per night

Reservations

Hotline

847-662-4811

GOING TO MATTHIESSEN STATE PARK

Going to Matthiessen State Park
(Photo lifted from Camping World, Miguel Bandeira from Unsplash)

Gifted with gorgeous water forms and rock formations, the wonders of Matthiessen State Park is located at 2500 IL-178, Oglesby. Campers seek the place because of its eye-catching Geology and wildlife.   

In the 19th century, the park opened employment to approximately 50 people to inspect dams and construction of stairways, bridges, and trails. The original owner of the park was a prominent philanthropist And industrialist, Frederick William Matthiessen. After his death, the state of Illinois took over the management and maintenance of the park. In 1943, the government named the park after its late owner.

Campers, Geology enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike flock in the campground to see jaw-dropping rock formations, prairie, forests, streams, and canyons. Going to Matthiessen State Park means having the chance of witnessing the grandeur of the Upper and Lower Dells, the Cascade falls, Deer Park Lake, and the Vermilion River. The plant-animal relationship in the area is seen in blue indigo buntings fly in plum trees and wild crabapple. Apart from camping, you can enjoy horseback riding, picnicking, hiking, bird-watching, playing archery, cross-country skiing, fishing, and swimming. 

The 14 campsites of Matthiessen State Park have picnic tables and grills. However, there are no electrical hookups. As such, it is of prime importance to bring along RV generators that shall suit your needs or patterns of consumption. Restrooms, mounting stations, and hydrants are available for use in the campground. 

The state park operates from May to October annually, and it follows a first-come, first-served basis. The rate of stay is $10 per night. The check-in period is 10 AM, and the checkout time is before 6 PM. It is advisable to book through www.reserveamerica.com telephone 815-667-4726 before your arrival.

Name

Matthiessen State Park

Address

2500 IL-178, Oglesby

Check-in Time

10 AM

Checkout Time

Before 6 PM

Operating Times

May-October

Rate

$10

Map Link

https://bit.ly/37TK4bI

Hotline

815-667-4726

LEARNING ABOUT ROCK CUT STATE PARK

Learning about Rock Cut State Park
(Photo lifted from Rockford Illinois)

The 3092-acres state park in 7318 Harlem Rd, Loves Park, envelopes Olson Lake and Pierce Lake. The Rock Cut State park boasts its rich history and numerous recreational choices for its visitors. 

After the Black Hawk War in 1832, the Rock Cut State Park region was occupied by the New Yorkers, New Englanders, Scots, and Canadians. The modern-day state park is a witness to the robust social interaction and dynamism of the human population that once took place in the area. 

The Rock Cut State Park gives its visitors the eye-capturing sceneries of nature; its proximity to Lake Oslon and Lake Pierce allows campers to enjoy swimming and fishing. Over a hundred varieties of wildflowers blossom in the area during the summer and spring seasons, attracting campers’ and plant enthusiasts’ attention. The state park houses a diverse species of animals such as muskrat, fox, deer, woodchuck, opossum, raccoon, and squirrel. The Rock Cut State Park boasts a range of recreational activities as the area is the ideal avenue for mountain biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, and hunting.  

The campground offers shower rooms, restrooms, dump stations, electricity, water hookups, a playground, and a boat launch for its visitors. There are 60 B/S Premium sites and 210 Class A Premium sites. Moreover, Class A Premium sites with access to electricity and shower facilities cost a rate of $15 per night. On the other hand, B-S Premium sites with access to shower rooms cost $12 per night. The check-in period is at 2 in the afternoon; the checkout time is 11 AM. If applicable, the use of utilities would cost $10.  

The state park operates year-round. Camping in the area requires a payment of a $5 permit. Most of its campsites follow a first-come, first-served basis. Should you decide to make prior reservations, you may do it through www.reserveamerica.com or contact 815-885-3311.

Name

Rock Cut State Park

Address

7318 Harlem Rd, Loves Park

Check-in Time

2 PM

Checkout Time

11 AM

Operating Times

Open Year-round

Rate

  • $15-Class A Premium Site (Access to shower facilities and electricity) 
  • $12-Class B-S Premium Site (Access to shower rooms)
  • $5-Permit Fee
  • $10-Utility Fee

Hotline

815-885-3311

SETTING A TRIP TO GIANT CITY STATE PARK

Setting a Trip to Giant City State Park
(Photo lifted from Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

Situated at 235 Giant City Road, Makanda, the campground boasts its elegant natural wonders. Nature lovers and extreme sports enthusiasts fall in love with the campground for its picturesque sceneries and death-defying activities. 

The state park boasts a great deal of historical significance since it was once a venue for human activities. Pieces of Archeological evidence suggest human occupancy of the area for as early as 10,000 years ago. In the early 19th century, the first European settlers from Kentucky and Tennessee arrived in the place. By the 1850s, settlers used the land for fruit tree harvests. 

The state park attracts more than a million visitors every year because of its eye-capturing greeneries and jaw-dropping outdoor activities. The Giant City Nature Trail houses unique geologic features, sandstone, sandstone fragments, elegant trees. The sandstone was formed more than 250 million years ago; the trail was formed 12,000 years ago. The campground caters to all of its campers; the Post Oak Nature Trail boasts a rich animal and plant symbiotic relationship; the trail is suitable for differently-abled visitors. In the Giant City Nature Trail, apart from hiking and camping, you can also enjoy fishing, boating, hunting, horseback riding, playing archery, and swimming. If you are a fan of extreme sports, you can enjoy rappelling and rock climbing in the state park. The Devil’s Standtable cliff and Shelter #1 bluff at the Makanda entrance are the areas for extreme sports. Campers who want to experience rock climbing and rappelling must bring their equipment; also, be careful with slippery sandstones and venomous copperhead snakes. The park reminds its visitors to do these death-defying activities at their own risk. 

The campground has potable water service, dump station, self-service dumpster, shower facilities, picnic shelters, and a playground. There are 85 Class A sites and 14 Class C sites. Reserving a Class A site means getting access to water, shower facilities, dump station, privies, fire ring, picnic table, and electricity; it also means paying $20 every night. On the other hand, booking a Class C site gives you access to privies, shower areas, and water; it costs $8 per night. You also have to pay an additional $5 as a processing fee. 

The check-in time is 2 PM; the checkout time is 11 in the morning. The campground is a famous spot for both tourists and local campers. As such, it would be prudent to book your campsite at least three days before your arrival. However, you need not make reservations from December to March; during these months, the management follows a first-come, first-served basis. You may book through www.reserveamerica.com. You may dial 618-319-3607 or 618-457-4836 for inquiries and concerns.

Address

235 Giant City Road, Makanda

Check-in Time

2 PM

Checkout Time

11 AM

Operating Times

Open Year-round

Rate

  • $20-Class A Site (Access to shower facilities, water, dump station, privies, fire ring, picnic table, and electricity) 
  • $8-Class C Site (Access to privies, water, and shower rooms)
  • $5-Processing Fee

Reservations

Hotline

618-319-3607 or 618-457-4836

VIEWING THE MISSISSIPPI PALISADES STATE PARK

Viewing the Mississippi Palisades State Park
(Photo Credits to Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

The campground is at 16327A IL Rte. 84, Savanna; at the confluence of Apple and Mississippi rivers. It is famous for its limestone caves, hiking trails, and diverse flora and fauna.  

The historic campground boasts a rich significance in Indian-American history. The campground’s southern routes unearth footsteps of peoples who set foot in the area a thousand years ago. Thus, letting you see and relive the past. 

The state park attracts visitors because of the limestone caves. The Twin Sisters rock formation and observation point, and the Indian Head never fail to capture the goers’ attention. The park also boasts the robust symbiotic relationship of animals and plants; it is the home of shorebirds, waterfowl, and wild turkey. In summer and spring, you can witness sceneries full of common bluebells and trilliums. Apart from camping, you can also enjoy swimming, boating, rock climbing, hunting, picnicking, and hiking. 

The campground has a camp store, water, shower rooms, and two sanitary dump stations. In specific sites, electrical hookups are available. There are 241 campsites in the area; reservations for 100 Class A and Class B sites are open; the remaining 141 sites follow a first-come, first-served basis. Class A sites offer access to shower rooms; you have to pay $18 every night. Class B-S sites cost $8 per night. The check-in time is at 2 in the afternoon; the checkout time is around 11 in the morning.

The campground operates year-round. You have to make a reservation for at least three days before your arrival. You may reserve through www.reserveamerica.com or contact 815-273-2731. 

Address

16327A IL Rte. 84, Savanna

Check-in Time

2 PM

Checkout Time

11 AM

Operating Times

Open Year-round

Rate

  • $18-Class A Site 
  • $8-Class B-S Site

Hotline

815-273-2731

The List of Must-Dos Before, During, and After Your Camping Trip

Thorough planning is essential to have fun-filled and successful camping. Careful planning lowers the probability of experiencing untoward incidents. As such, it is of tremendous vitality to plan ahead of time and consider numerous factors before heading to your destination. RV Camping suggests an orderly way of categorizing the steps to avoid confusion and have a well-planned and organized camping experience.

RECREATIONAL VEHICLE ESSENTIALS

Recreational Vehicle Essentials
(Photo lifted from Cheapism, GoodLifePhoto/istockphoto)

Before going to Illinois’ state parks, it is vital to examine whether your RV is well-conditioned or not. Inspect your RV’s exteriors and interiors; its brake systems, engine, power steering, and other vital parts. Pay attention to the tires, gauges, windshield washer, and coolant fluid levels.

5th Wheel Hitch– Should you travel with your 5th wheel attached to your primary vehicle, inspect whether your 5th wheel hitch is right for the weight of the 5th wheel and is functioning correctly. RV camping offers remarks and comments about the considerations you have to account for before investing in a 5th wheel hitch and other vital RV parts.

Deep Cycle Battery Charger– You also have to make sure that your black and grey tanks are empty before leaving. Furthermore, you have to inspect the working condition of your onboard appliances to ensure safety and functionality. Since some campsites provide little to no availability of electrical hookups, it would be prudent on your part to carry, aside from generators, deep cycle battery chargers to combat potential energy shortage. It is wise to always have a toolbox on your RV and spare tires if the need for vehicular repairs arises.

KNOW YOUR DESTINATION

Know Your Destination
(Photo lifted from Camper Report)

You have to choose your camping destination ahead of time. It is advantageous since you shall be able to research the weather conditions of your campsite. As such, you shall know the type of clothing and footwear you shall carry with you.  

Speaking of weather conditions, the unpredictability of weather brought by the onslaught of climate change may harm your RV. As such, it is prudent to invest in RV covers to protect your vehicle in various atmospheric conditions.

PREPARE YOUR PERSONAL NEEDS

Prepare Your Personal Needs
(Photo lifted from Metro Creative and 175 News-Press Now )

Determine the duration of your camping adventure. With this, you can gauge the amount of food supply and potable water you shall carry along to your destination. It would be helpful and advantageous to have food containers to maintain orderliness. It would also help purchase food supplies with a longer shelf life and require little to no refrigeration.

As for your hygienic supplies, you have to secure body wash, bath soaps, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouth wash, sanitizers, deodorants, and the likes. It would also add to your peace of mind to carry with you a first-aid kit should minor accidents arise. Insect repellants, antibacterial disinfectants, and your medicines should also be on your priority list.   

To combat boredom in serene and quiet moments, we advise you to bring your favorite books, board games, and other materials that could help you address boredom. If it brightens up your mood, bring your portable speakers for your music.

Do not forget to bring flashlights, lighters, your gadgets’ chargers, and the likes. You may also bring folding tables, folding chairs, portable fire pits, and shade structures to add extra comfort. Please do not forget to bring trash bags, dishwashing liquid, and other cleaning agents to maintain cleanliness. 

UPHOLD OUTDOOR ETIQUETTE

Uphold Outdoor Etiquette
(Photo lifted from Pinterest, Amanda Cook)

A little dose of good manners shall go a long way. Upholding outdoor etiquette means doing simple things that will significantly speak about you as a person. In camping, it is an unwritten and moral law to abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

Always take your rubbish with you and throw your wastewater in the proper dumping stations. Respect the flora and fauna of your campground. It is etiquette to be sensitive to the welfare of your co-campers. You have to tone down your music during quiet hours; most campgrounds have quiet hours, usually from 11 PM to 7 AM. During these hours, never use your generator, and it would help to tone down your voice when talking.

Conclusion

The state of Illinois is undoubtedly blessed with state parks suitable for any age or any taste. You will find what you are looking for in these state parks. While these places can cater to your needs and camping desires, we hope you will never forget the importance of rigorous preparation, thorough research, and proper attitude.

Be it in the Starved Rock State Park or Rock Cut State Park, or in the Illinois Beach State Park, we guarantee you that campgrounds in Illinois never fail to amaze their visitors. We hope you will experience a great camping adventure with all the reasons for the beneficial effects of camping and the facts and figures about various campgrounds we have shared with you.

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