Tents, cabins or lodges: Have your pick at Illinois State Parks

Illinois state parks offer campgrounds for tents throughout the state that appeal to single campers to families. (Photo courtesy of IDNR)

Illinois State Parks offer a variety of options for a summer vacation stay. It is up to you to choose what level of connection with the outdoors appeals to you — sleeping outdoors in a tent; sharing a cabin with friends or family; or getting a relaxing getaway with hotel amenities.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) does not charge an entrance fee to any state owned or operated land with the exception of Wildlife Prairie Park. Sites with beaches charge $1 a day per person for beach use only.


Generally, throughout the state, camping is available year-round weather permitting:

  • Spring/summer camping (May 1 through Sept. 30)
  • Fall / winter camping (Oct. 1 through April 30)

If buildings, water and electrical service are available, regardless of the date, the regular camping fee will apply. When cold weather requires closing buildings and shutting off water in Class AA, A, A-P, B/S or B/S-P campgrounds, the fee shall be reduced commensurate with the services and facilities available for use.

Call ahead for available amenities especially for Class AA, A, A-P, B/S, B/S-P and C camping.

For a  complete listing of parks with camping, go to https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/AllParks.aspx.

Premium campgrounds

Facilities get designated as premium camping if they have a preponderant history of consistently operating at capacity. The following sites have been designated as Premium Campgrounds:

  • Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park
  • Chain O’Lakes State Park
  • Kankakee River State Park
  • Rock Cut State Park
  • Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area
  • Starved Rock State Park

Some state parks offer Rent-A-Camp Programs to experience camping in a rustic cabin in an easy, inexpensive and enjoyable way. (Photo courtesy of IDNR)

Rent-A-Camp and Cabins

The Rent-A-Camp Program offers an opportunity to experience camping at an Illinois State Park in an easy, inexpensive way.

The following items are provided for one rental fee:

Cabin – 2 sets of bunks, 1 full bed & table with chairs

Broom and dust pan

Charcoal grill

Picnic table

Trash barrel or bags

Fire ring

Camp light

Fire extinguisher

Cabins Fees

The Rent-a-Camp fee for cabins is in addition to the camping and utility fees. Fees must be paid in full at the time the reservation is made. The $5 reservation fee is non-refundable.

The primitive, two-room cabins are equipped with only the bare essentials: one full-sized bed with mattress, two sets of bunk beds with mattresses, an electric heater, a drop-leaf table with chairs, and ceiling fans. Many cabins are handicapped accessible and can be approached via vehicle. Showers, electricity, charcoal grills and picnic tables are available at the campgrounds; however, campers must bring their own bed linens and personal items. Dogs and other pets are not allowed at cabin sites.

*Note: ‘Siloam Springs’ cabin rents for the large tent fee.

Some suggested items you might consider bringing with you:

  • First Aid Kit ​
  • Food ​
  • Cooking & Eating Utensils ​
  • Sleeping Bags, Blankets ​
  • Personal Toiletries
  • Water Jug
  • Ice Chest & Ice​
  • Charcoal, Lighter Fluid, Matches
  • Folding Lawn Chairs
  • Trash Bags ​
  • Flashlights & extra batteries
  • Bucket
  • Rope ​
  • Suntan Lotion
  • Insect Repellent
  • Rain gear ​
  • Boots
  • Recreational Equipment
  • Linens ​

For a listing and more information on Rent-A- Camp, go to https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Camp/Pages/Rent-A-Camp.aspx.

The Pere Marquette Lodge in southwestern Illinois is one of the lodges and hotels offered at eight different state parks. (Photo courtesy of IDNR)

The lodges

Illinois has eight State Park Lodges.

Four of the Lodges were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and one is believed to have been constructed by James McFarland (1776-1837) and operated as a tavern & later as a boarding house to serve the Ohio River travelers with all being listed on the National Historic Register. The other three are more modern facilities.

State Park Lodges