One of the greatest ways to truly connect with the outdoors is tent camping. This puts you right in the heart of the wilderness and gives you a perspective that cannot be paralleled by other forms of camping.
So, today we will be talking about the best places to tent camp in Illinois. The first step for planning any camping trip is picking the best spot. This is also the most important step because you want to be in a good position for camping success. Here are the best places to tent camp in Illinois as well as a quick tips section for beginning campers!
The most well-known camping and recreation area in the entire state are Starved Rock State Park. Less than 100 miles from downtown Chicago, in Oglesby. There are many people that make weekend trips to this location.
This is a spot that provides incredible hiking, beautiful campsites, and great sites. Waterfalls, creeks, and dense forests pave the way for an authentic wilderness experience. There are about 130 campsites with full hookups, but you can also pitch a tent!
Be sure to take advantage of Starved Rock and the nearby Matthiessen State Park to see what this part of Illinois can offer you!
Although Illinois is usually described as a mixture of Chicago and flat prairies, there is one area that really sticks out. This is the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. This is a rugged area that makes you feel like you are in a completely different place. The jutted rock formations coupled with dense woodland provide an oasis of sorts in an area that is known to outsiders as being urban.
Now, there are just 12 campsites available at any one time, so making a reservation early is a must. However, it is so worth it because you will have access to great sites without the heavy foot traffic that can be found in places like Starved Rock.
The next location on our list is Rock Cut State Park. This is a fairly large place, at least compared to the Garden of the Gods, and it has plenty of camping opportunities to be taken advantage of.
With over 250 great campsites, there is plenty to go around for you and other tent campers. There is also a good mix of different activities to take part in. With two lakes and a whole mess of hiking trails, you can hike, horseback ride, fish, and many other options.
Having a plethora of options to partake in is a very big perk to consider when weighing your options. You can even take a dip in one of the lakes and cool off during those hot days.
Located in Oregon, IL, Castle Rock State Park has some camping options that are fairly unique. This spot provides one of the more exclusive camping opportunities in the entire state of Illinois. This is a primitive spot that offers tent camping only to those who want a more intense experience.
This uniqueness comes in the form of being secluded from the outside world more than the others. The only way to access the tent camping sites is by boat or canoe. So, you cannot drive to your campsite which definitely brings the experience up a notch.
Because the means of camping is far more simplistic, you will have to account for that with what you bring. You cannot just pack a car full of gear and go. So, visit Castle Rock State Park for a really unique camping experience.
To finish off our list, we have one of the highest-rated campgrounds in the state of Illinois. The D&W Lake Camping and RV Park is an excellent choice if you are camping in the Champaign area.
With a number of tent and RV campsites, the different number of options is a nice touch. There is also a lake on the premises, so fishing, canoeing, and boating are all options right outside of your tent.
In terms of other things to do, you are in a great area of restaurants and smaller activities to take part in. So, whether you stick to the campsite or venture out, there are plenty of things to do.
Tip Guide for Tent Camping Newbies
● What type of pre-planning is required?
There are a number of things you must plan for when tent camping. First and foremost, you need a place to camp. Secondly, you need the proper gear to do so. These are the two biggest factors that need to be planned out right away.
Once those two factors are set, you can move on to the secondary and smaller details that still need to be thought out. This includes planning for food, activities, and anything else that comes up.
● What do you do for meals while tent camping?
Cooking while tent camping is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the entire experience. This is where you can get creative and make some delicious meals out in the wilderness. Many first-timers think that you are roughing it and eating a diet of canned tuna and granola bars. This could not be further from the truth!
As long as you have the necessary tools, such as a camp stove and utensils, you can create incredible meals.
● Where should you tent camp?
The spot where you choose to pitch your tent should depend on a few key things. Firstly, you need to find a safe, legal place to camp. As long as you have permission and there are no giant issues or safety concerns, you should be good to set up.
If you need a source of water, this is yet another factor to keep in mind. Weather is a big variable whenever camping. Choose a campsite that is on high ground and can be safe when the weather takes a turn for the worst.
For more helpful hints on the best tents to purchase, please visit our article on Best Tents for Camping in Colorado!