Illinois RV parks are plentiful throughout the state, with the notable exception of the Chicago metro area, where it can be difficult to find an RV site in one of our country’s largest metropolises. Camping in Chicago isn’t impossible, however, and there are many excellent RV resorts scattered around the Windy City that offer the dual benefit of being in a natural setting but still relatively close to Chi-town. Illinois is a diverse state, and while it’s one of the flattest states in the union, it does possess several different ecoregions.
The southern edge of the state where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet has some of the dense forest common to neighboring states like Kentucky and Southeastern Missouri. South of Interstate 64 you’ll find Pyramid State Park, Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park, Giant City State Park, Ferne Clyffe, Fort Massac State Park, and Dixon Springs State Park. Nearly half of Southern Illinois is protected land, including Trail of Tears State Forest, Cypress Creek, and Shawnee National Forest.
South Central Illinois RV parks and campgrounds cluster around the towns between St. Louis and Chicago. This region is home to Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, and Bloomington, and there are still plenty of State Parks to explore, including Eldon Hazlet, South Shore, Fox Ridge, Walnut Point, Sangchris Lake, and Lincoln Trail State Parks. The Illinois River cuts through its namesake state, and there are numerous opportunities to explore between Peoria and the border with Missouri where the river becomes part of the Mississippi near St. Louis. Central Illinois is an ideal spot to make camp when travelling between the Great Lakes region to the Ozarks, or from the Midwestern forests to the Great Plains region. The state has always been a crossroads of sorts, and continues to play host to weary travelers who get more than just a place to stay for the night, they also get vibrant nature and lots of history and heritage to boot.
The Illinois River flows west from Chicago before it pivots and heads south to St. Louis, and prior to that pivot there are several fantastic areas to make camp and get outdoors not too far from the Windy City. Take Interstate 80 west past Joliet and you’ll pass Channahon State Park, Gebhard Woods State Park, Illini State Park, and a trio of state parks near Oglesby in the form of Mattheissen State Park, Buffalo Rock State Park, and Starved Rock State Park, one of Illinois most-popular summertime camping areas.
Northern Illinois campgrounds are plentiful around Rockford and around the outskirts of Chicago, and like the rest of the state there are lots of spots to explore the wilds of the Midwest. Checkout Prophetstown State Park, Lowden State Park, or Rock Cut State Park near Rockford. Closer to Chi-town is Chain o’ Lakes, Moraine Hills, and James Pate Philip State Parks.