Camping Near Chicago – 15 Spots To Get Up And Close To Nature

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Chicago, known as the “Windy City,” is a bustling metropolis filled with skyscrapers, cultural attractions, and vibrant city life. However, sometimes you need a break from the hustle and bustle and seek solace in nature. Luckily, there are several fantastic camping spots near Chicago that allow you to reconnect with the great outdoors. In this article, we will explore 15 spots where you can go camping near Chicago and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

1. Starved Rock State Park

Experience the Majestic Canyons and Waterfalls

Starved Rock State Park, located just 90 miles southwest of Chicago, is a natural gem that offers breathtaking views of canyons, towering cliffs, and picturesque waterfalls. With over 13 miles of hiking trails, visitors can explore the park’s beauty while enjoying activities like fishing, boating, and camping. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast, Starved Rock State Park is a must-visit camping spot near Chicago.

2. Indiana Dunes National Park

Discover the Beauty of Lake Michigan

Indiana Dunes National Park, situated on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The park boasts stunning sand dunes, diverse ecosystems, and pristine beaches. Camping here provides a unique opportunity to witness breathtaking sunsets over the lake while enjoying activities like birdwatching, hiking, and swimming. Don’t miss the chance to experience the natural wonders of Indiana Dunes National Park.

3. Chain O’Lakes State Park

Explore the Waterways and Lakes

Chain O’Lakes State Park, located in northeastern Illinois, is a paradise for water lovers. With a network of interconnected lakes and waterways, this park offers endless opportunities for boating, kayaking, and fishing. Camping at Chain O’Lakes State Park allows you to wake up to the serene sounds of nature and spend your days enjoying water activities. It’s the perfect getaway for those seeking outdoor adventure near Chicago.

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4. Kankakee River State Park

Enjoy Scenic Trails and River Recreation

Kankakee River State Park, situated along the Kankakee River, is a nature lover’s paradise. The park features miles of scenic trails that wind through forests, prairies, and wetlands, offering visitors a chance to observe a variety of wildlife. Camping at Kankakee River State Park provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility and enjoy activities like canoeing, fishing, and wildlife photography.

5. Illinois Beach State Park

Relax on the Shores of Lake Michigan

Illinois Beach State Park, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, offers a unique camping experience with its stunning beaches and sand dunes. With over six miles of pristine shoreline, this park is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. Camping here allows you to fall asleep to the gentle lapping of waves and wake up to breathtaking views of the lake. Illinois Beach State Park is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts near Chicago.

6. Matthiessen State Park

Wander Through Beautiful Canyons and Rock Formations

Matthiessen State Park, located near Starved Rock State Park, is a natural wonderland filled with lush forests, vibrant wildflowers, and stunning rock formations. The park’s canyons, carved by water and time, offer a picturesque setting for hiking and photography. Camping at Matthiessen State Park provides an opportunity to witness the beauty of nature up close and personal. It’s a tranquil escape from the city’s chaos.

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7. Moraine Hills State Park

Discover the Scenic Lakes and Wetlands

Moraine Hills State Park, situated in the Fox River Valley, is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park’s rolling hills, lakes, and wetlands create a picturesque landscape that is perfect for hiking, fishing, and boating. Camping at Moraine Hills State Park allows you to immerse yourself in the serenity of nature and experience the beauty of the Illinois countryside.

8. Rock Cut State Park

Enjoy Outdoor Recreation and Pristine Lakes

Rock Cut State Park, located in Winnebago County, is a popular destination for camping near Chicago. The park features two beautiful lakes, Pierce Lake and Olson Lake, where visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, and swimming. With over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails, Rock Cut State Park offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Spend a weekend camping here and embrace the beauty of nature.

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9. Apple River Canyon State Park

Traverse Through the Scenic Canyons

Apple River Canyon State Park, nestled in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The park’s picturesque canyons, carved by the Apple River, provide a stunning backdrop for hiking and camping. Explore the trails that wind through the forested bluffs and enjoy the peacefulness of the natural surroundings. Apple River Canyon State Park is a true escape into nature.

10. Shabbona Lake State Park

Reel in the Fun with Fishing and Water Sports

Shabbona Lake State Park, situated in DeKalb County, is a paradise for anglers and water sports enthusiasts. The park’s 318-acre lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, with species like bass, walleye, and catfish. Visitors can also enjoy boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the tranquil waters. Camping at Shabbona Lake State Park allows you to indulge in outdoor adventures while being surrounded by the beauty of nature.


  1. Q: Can I make reservations for camping at these spots near Chicago?
    • A: Yes, most of the camping spots mentioned in this article offer reservation systems. It is recommended to check their respective websites or contact the park authorities for more information.
  2. Q: What amenities can I expect at these camping spots?
    • A: The amenities vary from park to park, but generally, you can expect facilities like picnic areas, restrooms, showers, and in some cases, electric hookups for RV camping. It’s advisable to check the specific amenities provided by each camping spot before your visit.
  3. Q: Are pets allowed at these camping spots?
    • A: Some camping spots may allow pets, but there are often restrictions and rules regarding their presence. It’s important to check the pet policies of the individual parks before bringing your furry friend along.
  4. Q: Are campfires allowed at these camping spots?
    • A: Campfire regulations differ among the camping spots. Some may allow campfires in designated fire rings or pits, while others may have restrictions or bans depending on weather conditions. Make sure to review the campfire policies and guidelines of each park before starting a fire.
  5. Q: Can I go camping during the winter season?
    • A: Some camping spots near Chicago offer winter camping options, but it’s important to note that the availability of facilities and accessibility may be limited during the winter months. It’s recommended to check with the park authorities and plan accordingly if you intend to camp during winter.
  6. Q: Are there any hiking trails suitable for beginners?
    • A: Yes, most of the camping spots mentioned in this article have hiking trails suitable for beginners. However, it’s always a good idea to check the difficulty level and length of the trails before embarking on a hike.


Escape the urban jungle and embark on an adventure in nature by exploring these 15 camping spots near Chicago. From stunning canyons to pristine lakeshores, each location offers a unique experience to connect with the outdoors. Whether you’re an avid hiker, fishing enthusiast, or simply seeking tranquility, these camping spots have something for everyone. So pack your camping gear, embrace the beauty of nature, and create unforgettable memories in the wilderness near Chicago.

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