Getting back to nature: Camping in northern Illinois
There are countless activities to do in Illinois state parks.
Friday, May 25, 2012 - 14:45
SUMMER CAMPING: Explore northern Illinois by camping in state parks. (Photo: kajsahartig/Flickr)
Across the northern part of Illinois, camp grounds in state parks are starting to open to tent campers. This means even more reason to explore all of the activities such as fishing, hiking, biking and exploring that northern Illinois parks have to offer.
There are 140 state parks in Illinois, some of them offering a chance to camp within their borders. In northern Illinois, Memorial Day usually marks the time for summer weather to be officially here and outdoor camping to begin. Camping in the heart of a forest or open meadow is a great experience for all ages and for friends and family alike. Campgrounds will often provide fire pits for bonfires and cooking meals and sometimes also a picnic table. Best of all, campgrounds in northern Illinois allow you to be within walking distance to all the other amenities.
There are a few state parks in the northern stretch of Illinois that allow visitors to camp. Rock Cut, Chain O Lakes, Mississippi Palisades and Apple River Canyon State Parks are a few worth checking out. There are many more throughout the state and this interactive map can provide more information on camp-accessible state parks in-state and throughout the country.
Many Illinois state parks surround a notable lake or river where you are able to fish. You will need to obtain a state fishing license in order to do so, and information regarding that can be found at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. There are often specific laws about fish size and species that may prohibit you from keeping the catch, and this information can be found either at lake-side or through the campground's office building.
If you are interested in visiting a state park over the summer, consider bringing your dog. Dogs are allowed in any state owned park so long as they are always leashed. Horses, too, can be trailered to some state parks. Horses that are from out of state or that have been out of state for 30 days or more must bring proof of negative equine infectious anemia (EIA) in order to ride in Illinois state parks.
Alcohol bans exist in some state parks, too, so it is important to check the alcohol restrictions page of the DNR website before bringing in any alcohol.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources page offers more information regarding laws and requirements in Illinois state parks. Before your trip to a park, check up on the requirements of your camp site to avoid any fines.
In addition to the recreational activities found in a state park, camping in Illinois allows you a freedom to explore the beauty of northern Illinois' natural prairies, old forests and diverse fauna. If you are in northern Illinois this summer, explore the natural side of the state and take a camping vacation.
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