Need a Break From the City Life?
Explore the Great Outdoors and Go Camping!
I have lived in Chicago for almost my whole life and sometimes the grind of the city can wear on you. That is when you need to take a camping holidays; get outdoors and explore what nature has to offer. If you are looking for a wilderness campground, there are a few within a few hours drive of Chicago. What I have organized here is a list of the best camping sites near Chicago.
A camping site is only useful if the destination is reachable for a weekend camping trip. All of these camping sites are within 260 miles from Chicago and ordered by distance from the city. Things to be aware of: Some camping sites are able to be reserved and some are first come first serve. Some campgrounds are no alcohol and/or no pets. Make sure that you look into these details as pertained to your camping holidays trip before you go away on your forest camping adventure. There are fees for camping at all of these locations, though it is fairly minimal ($12-25 per night).
This list is mostly dedicated to the more of a forest camping site experience being available at the locations. If you are looking for resort or rv camping, this is not your list (though most have lakes to swim in). Also, if you are willing to tack another 100-150 miles to the trip; it opens up a whole new world of the rolling forested hills of Southern Illinois and Northern Kentucky as well as the rugged wilderness terrain of the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Here is your Chicago camp guide!
Warren Dunes State Park, MI
85 Miles From Chicago
This state park has the closest camping site to Chicago. The park is located on 1950 acres with three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline that provides for beach camping. With 221 modern and rustic campsites, pristine swimming beaches, 6 miles of nature trails for running or walking, sand dunes to take in the sunset views and Chicago sky line on clear days; you can’t beat this location for proximity to Chicago.
Starved Rock State Park, IL
100 Miles From Chicago
Picnicking, fishing, boating, horseback riding and camping are all activities available along the 18 miles of glacially formed canyons. Starved rock is well within reach of Chicago for weekend camping holidays; with 129 Class A camping sites available for reservation.
Apple River Canyon State Park, IL
145 Miles From Chicago
Apple River Canyon State Park is located near the Wisconsin border in Jo Daviess County. This ideal camping site near Chicago features natural attractions of limestone bluffs, springs, streams and deep ravines. There are 49 Class C camping sites without showers in the Canyon Ridge Campground.
Kohler-Andrae State Park, WI
145 Miles From Chicago
This state park near Sheboygan Wisconsin offers miles of beautiful beach and towering sand dunes. There are 125 family campsites that provide a home away from home while enjoying the abundance of wildlife and hiking trails throughout the dunes and forest.
Devil's Lake State Park, WI
189 Miles From Chicago
Often called the Midwest’s “Yellowstone”, Devil’s Lake is Wisconsin’s most popular state park. 500 foot quartzite bluffs and a 360-acre lake create an ideal site for camping near Chicago given that it is only a 3 hour drive. The camper can enjoy activities such as: swimming, rock climbing, trail hiking, biking and paddling. If you are looking for a wilderness campground, Devil's Lake State Park has 3 large campgrounds and 9 group campsites.
Mirror Lake State Park, WI
190 Miles From Chicago
Covering over 2000 acres, Mirror Lake is just 3 miles from the Wisconsin Dells. The calm lake reflects wooded shoreline and 50 foot high cliffs. There are three picnic areas; 151 family campsites, plus seven group campsites; bike, boat, canoe and kayak rentals available. A perfect place to go camping.
Harrison Lake State Park, OH
198 Miles From Chicago
Harrison Lake State Park is a 142 acre oasis in the middle of agriculture country. It provides for swimming, fishing, canoeing, and camping at its 173 campsites.
Opossum Creek, IL
207 Miles From Chicago
RR 4 Box 128B
Shelbyville, IL 62565
This quiet campground sits on the western shore of Lake Shelbyville. Perfect for swimming, fishing, picnicking and all out relaxation! There are 79 total campsites.
Sangchris Lake, IL
213 Miles From Chicago
Sangchris Lake provides a perfect central camping site for enjoying outdoor activities in Central Illinois; including lake fishing, boating, forest camping, hunting and family gathering. Located just east of Springfield; Sangchris Lake consists of 3022 acres and offers 120 miles of shoreline. Between the Deer Run campground and the Hickory Point wilderness campground there are 135 Class A campsites, 40 Class B/S campsites, 15 Class Ccampsites , 5 Class C equestrian campsirtes and two cabins.
Coralville Lake, IA
224 Miles From Chicago
Coralville Lake has three campgrounds (Dam Complex, Sugar Bottom and Sandy Beach) with just over 500 campsites. Activities include swimming, fishing, hunting, trail hiking, biking and disc golf.
Lake Macbride State Park, IA
230 Miles From Chicago
A great spot for lake fishing, swimming, boating, trail hiking, bird-watching; Lake Macbride State Park has 2 campgrounds. The first is a modern campground to the north with 38 camping sites with electrical hookups. The second encampment is non-modern wilderness campground consisting of 60 campsites in a beautiful shaded setting near the lake.
Monroe Lake, IN
241 Miles From Chicago
Monroe Lake State Park sports 23952 acres, of which 10750 are lake. Activities are many: boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, hunting and picnicking. Campsites available are 226, which are electric, and 94 non-electric campsites.
Ludington State Park, MI
244 Miles From Chicago
Scenic sand dunes and shoreline vistas are plentiful at this State Park only four hours drive from Chicago. Situated between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan, several miles of shoreline are provided along each body of water. With 352 modern camping sites and 10 rustic hike–in sites between 3 campgrounds, there is plenty of availability to enjoy the biking, hunting, trail hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, and more.
Backbone State Park, IA
245 Miles From Chicago
Backbone; so named for its narrow steep ridge of dolomite/limestone, the “Devil’s Backbone”. Activities include picnicking; lake activities like swimming, fishing and boating; trails for hiking; rock climbing and bicycling. There are 127 camping sites over two campgrounds; 41 electric campsites and 86 non-electric campsites.
Hardin Ridge Recreation Area, IN
251 Miles From Chicago
Hardin Ridge is a 1200 acre recreational complex located on the Monroe Reservoir. The area offers nature walks, swimming, boating and picnicking. With a total combined 203 campsites from 6 campground loops, there are plenty of spots available.
Indian Lake State Park, OH
253 Miles From Chicago
Indian Lake’s 5800 acres offer boating, fishing and water-skiing; all right outside one of the the campgrounds 405 electrical camping sites. The 800 acre multi-use park has trails for hiking or running, picnicking, and hunting is available as well.
Argyle Lake State Park, IL
255 Miles From Chicago
This lake is known as a fisherman’s delight. The state park has 93 acres of lake for boating and fishing. Argyle Lake State Park boasts 1700 acres of heavily wooded land for hiking and picnicking. There is a variety of camping sites between the three campgrounds: 86 Class A campsites at Twisted Oak campground, 24 Class B/E and 18 Class C campsites at Big Oaks campground, and 31 Class D campsites at Twin Oaks (a more wilderness campground).
Whitewater Memorial, IN
256 Miles From Chicago
This man-made 200 acre lake provides for shoreline hiking, flat-water boating, fishing, nine miles of horse trails and swimming. There are 236 electric campsites and 45 non-electric campsites, as well as, 37 horseman’s primitive sites.
Brookville Lake, IN
256 Miles From Chicago
Part of Whitewater Memorial State Park Complex; this lake property has more than 25 miles of hiking trails, 5260 acres of lake for boating and fishing, two beaches for swimming and over 400 campsites.
Now it is time to go camping!
While this list I have provided is nowhere near exhaustive of the many campsites and RV Parks (which I actually tried to leave out) within a 260 mile radius of Chicago, I do believe that these 19 campgrounds are the best camping sites near Chicago. I tried to focus on wilderness campground as much as I could and provide options for forest camping sites.
Thanks for taking a look at my list and please offer any other suggestions for decent camping sites near Chicago in the comments below.