Best Tent Camping: Illinois: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

Best Tent Camping: Illinois: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

by John Schirle


$16.19 $16.95 Save 4% Current price is $16.19, Original price is $16.95. You Save 4%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, March 25

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634041041
Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Series: Best Tent Camping
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 274,781
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

John Schirle was raised in central Illinois and has been back in his home state since 1993. Since his college days he has loved getting away in the outdoors: camping, hiking, canoeing, and, more recently, caving. As a result he’s spent countless hours scouring the region for the ideal tent-camping getaways. He’s had a personal goal for some years of visiting every single state park in Illinois (which he hasn’t yet achieved, although he’s a lot closer now!). Over the years he’s been a Bible translator in central Africa, a college professor, camp program director, and is currently a children’s librarian in his hometown of Decatur, Illinois.

Read an Excerpt

Lake Murphysboro State Park

I love camping at the water’s edge, whether it be by a lake, creek, or rolling river. I love it even more when a park like Lake Murphysboro has taken advantage of its miles of shoreline to set up two completely separate lakeside camping areas, one primarily for RVs, and one for tents. And we tent campers get the better deal—our campground is smaller, quieter, and closer to the lake.

As you’re coming north off IL 149, turn right toward Lake Murphysboro. If you go straight into the park, you’ll come to the popular Big Oak Campground, with 54 electric campsites. Turn left instead, and continue north around the lake 0.5 miles to the two adjacent tent-camping areas (20 sites total). Each site has a table, ground grill, and lantern pole, and most are located on the lakeshore—perfectly situated for fishing, or just sitting and enjoying the view. The first five sites, called Water Lily Campground, are between the main park road and the lake. Site 4 is designated wheelchair accessible; there are vault toilets directly across the road. Though they’re attractive, the primary disadvantage of these sites is their proximity to the road. For that reason, I prefer the sites just around the corner, along the dead-end Shady Rest Campground road.

Shady Rest has 15 sites, half of them as close to the lake as you can get without a boat. Sites 1, 2, and 3 on the right as you enter are good—3 has more space and shade. Sites 4 and 8 are small, but site 5, which is between them, is attractive. All the other sites are spacious, but my favorite is site 15, at the end of the road, which has more room to spread out beneath some tree cover.

Once you’ve selected a site, register with the campground host at the first site in Big Oak Campground, or settle in and park personnel will come by later. There are vault toilets at both campgrounds, but you’ll need to get water at the shower house on the other side of the lake.

The tent areas don’t fill up as often as the RV campground, but they’re still about half full on most good weekends. If you come on a holiday weekend and find it maxed out, the park will open a grassy overflow tent area on the northeast corner of the lake—it’s not as pretty, but they’ll always find you a spot.

The main park road makes a loop around the lake, a scenic drive with several turnoffs leading to wooded picnic areas on lakeside promontories. On the opposite side of the lake from the campgrounds you’ll find the boat launch and shower house, open to all campers from April 1 to mid-November. Lakeside are numerous places to bank fish, as well as a beautiful wooden wheelchair-accessible fishing pier by the docks. There’s no longer a concession, but at the park office you can rent johnboats for $10 per day, which includes lifejackets and oars. You can bring your own motor, electric, or gas, 10 horsepower or under.

Considerably more open water and recreational opportunities can be found down the road at nearby Kinkaid Lake. Head straight west out of Lake Murphysboro along Lake Access Road, which becomes Marina Road and curves right at 1.4 miles. Another 1.4 miles brings you to the Kinkaid Village Marina, where you’ll find a restaurant, boat rental, groceries, ice, fishing tackle, and bait, as well as a very busy RV campground. This area is hopping on most summer weekends, with hordes of boaters, fishermen, water-skiers, and house-boaters. However, the lake offers 2,750 surface acres, more than 90 miles of shoreline, and almost 9,300 acres of surrounding wilderness, so there are plenty of places to get away from the crowds by boat, foot, or mountain bike.

The lands south and west of Kinkaid Lake are part of the Shawnee National Forest and feature more than 30 miles of fairly rugged trails, with several trailheads and possible routes between them. One beautiful hike begins at the dam at the southern end of the lake and winds north along the lakeshore 3 miles to the Buttermilk Hill picnic area. When you reach the forest service road at the end of the point, turn right to go down to the picnic area and restrooms. (You’ll have to retrace your steps to the dam, since the picnic area is accessible by boat or foot only.) To get to the dam, go west on IL 149 to Spillway Road (just past the bridge). Turn right and head north 1.25 miles to the parking area in front of the gate. The trail begins 0.25 miles up the hill, at the west end of the dam.

For other hiking options around Kinkaid Lake, go to and download the guides to Kinkaid Lake, Gum Ridge, Buttermilk
Hill, and Waterfall Trail. (Note that the section between Buttermilk Hill trailhead and the picnic area is temporarily closed.) As on all trails in the Shawnee Forest, be sure to carry water, a map, and a compass or GPS unit.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Overview Map

Best Illinois Campgrounds



About the Author


Northern Illinois

  • Apple River Canyon State Park
  • Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area
  • Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park
  • Loud Thunder Forest Preserve
  • Marengo Ridge Conservation Area
  • Pecatonica River Forest Preserve
  • Sugar River Forest Preserve
  • Woodford State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Central Illinois

  • Argyle Lake State Park
  • Beaver Dam State Park
  • COMLARA Park
  • Eagle Creek State Recreation Area
  • Forest Glen County Preserve
  • Friends Creek Conservation Area
  • Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Kickapoo State Recreation Area
  • Lincoln Trail State Park
  • Lodge Park
  • McCully Heritage Project
  • Moraine View State Recreation Area
  • Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area
  • Sam Parr State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Sand Ridge State Forest
  • Siloam Springs State Park
  • Spring Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Walnut Point State Park
  • Weldon Springs State Park
  • Southern Illinois

  • Beall Woods State Park
  • Camp Cadiz
  • Cave-in-Rock State Park
  • Devils Kitchen Campground
  • Dixon Springs State Park
  • Ferne Clyffe State Park
  • Giant City State Park
  • Hamilton County State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Lake Murphysboro State Park
  • Pere Marquette State Park
  • Pharaoh Campground
  • Pine Hills Campground
  • Pine Ridge Campground
  • Pyramid State Park
  • Randolph County State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Red Bud Campground
  • Saline County State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Sam Dale Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
  • Stephen A. Forbes State Recreation Area
  • Trail of Tears State Forest
  • Turkey Bayou Campground
  • Washington County State Recreation Area
  • Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park
  • Appendixes and Index

    Appendix A: Camping Equipment Checklist

    Appendix B: Sources of Information


    Map Legend

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    See All Customer Reviews