While the Chicago area is blessed with many great forest preserves, most do not allow camping. You’ll have to drive a bit to find places to camp, but escape is kind of the point, isn’t it?
The Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville is part of a wide swath of green space that surrounds Butterfield Road in Warrenville and Winfield. Blackwell is the only place among the group that offers camping, with 64 wooded and semi-wooded sites that are available by reservation on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Kankakee River State Park has become a destination for paddlers to explore the Kankakee River, considered to be one of the cleanest in the state and an easy, shallow river for beginning paddlers. But it’s also a fine camping destination, particularly for car campers looking for a quick getaway from Chicago with lots of family-style activities to do along the river.
Starved Rock State Park is the go-to place for outdoor adventure in central and northern Illinois, attracting more than 2 million visitors a year. There are 129 premium campsites in the park, with reservations accepted and highly recommended.