The National Wildlife Federation is partnering with Disney in a summer-long celebration of camping as a way to connect people with nature and wildlife. They are challenging families to pitch a tent and experience the great outdoors. Whether it is in your backyard for one night or an extended camping vacation, everyone can benefit from time spent in nature. The Great American Campout Day falls on June 25th this year, but the NWF is encouraging camping throughout the summer.
Did you know that we have our very own state park right here in Lake County (we do share it with McHenry County, though)? I was surprised to learn that many Lake County residents don’t know that, especially if they’re new to the area. Chain O’ Lakes State Park is in the far north west corner of the county with entrances to the park in Antioch and Spring Grove. In addition to access to the Fox River, picnic sites, horse back riding, and walking trails, there is a campground. When you’re in the park it is hard to believe you’re only an hour from Chicago.
Chain O’ Lakes State Park
8916 Wilmot Rd., Spring Grove
If you’re feeling adventurous and ready to leave the comfort zone of Lake County, check out beautiful Starved Rock State Park. This Illinois gem is south west of Chicago, about a two-and-a-half to three-hour drive from Lake County on the Illinois River. When planning your trip, consider that you’ll be driving through the heart of the Chicago suburbs (i.e., traffic) for most of the route. I’d suggest that you schedule to avoid rush hour times when planning your departure and return, or a three-hour drive could easily become a grueling five-hour trek. Starved Rock State Park features beautiful hiking trails with views of the river, small waterfalls, and unique rock formations. You may even get to see bald eagles or bison!
Starved Rock State Park
2668 E. 875th Rd., Oglesby
My favorite campground is Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I have visited the park at least once a year since I was five years old. You’ll experience real hiking and camping, with the feeling of being in the wilderness. While this trip is nice for a quick weekend jaunt, I’d suggest allowing yourself at least three full days to experience the sprawling area for the first time. The state park features multiple campgrounds, playgrounds, a swimming beach, fishing, miles and miles of hiking trails (some climbing trails are very difficult), and a nature center. The park is surrounded by other nature areas open to the public, and the thousand-mile footpath, The Ice Age Trail. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially on holiday weekends.
Devil’s Lake State Park
S5975 Park Rd., Baraboo, WI
If you’re not the outdoorsy type or just not able to get away, backyard camping is also a great option, too, especially for families with little kids. Check out my 2014 post about backyard camping. And for some camping inspiration, follow our Little Campers board on Pinterest.
So take the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout pledge and pitch a tent this summer. The NWF has some great resources on their website for you, too. You can locate a local organized campout, or put one together in your community. There are even tips for first-time campers.
Some of our local park districts offer organized campouts in public spaces, too.
Camping Under The Stars
July 8th at 5:00 p.m. – July 10th at 12:00 p.m.
Pedersen Park, 680 Highway 173, Antioch
June 25th at 6:00 p.m. – June 26th at 10:00 a.m.
Millenium Park, 201 Country Place, Lindenhurst
July 30th at 6:00 p.m. – July 31st at 7:30 a.m.
Hunt Club Park Gurnee, 920 Hunt Club Rd., Gurnee
Are you happy campers? Where does your family like to camp?