Your guide to camping in Suburban Cook County

Family camping and roasting marshmellows
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Stunning sunsets, crackling campfires, yummy s’mores…yes, please! It’s true — camping is a wonderful way to relax, unwind and immerse yourself in nature. Better yet, you don’t even have to invest too much time or energy to enjoy an overnight trip. The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) offers five campgrounds with a variety of sleeping options – they’ll even rent you gear.

When most people think of camping, they think of tents. And sleeping bags. And portable chairs. (It can be quite a list.) But at Cook County’s campgrounds, you can also sleep in a cabin, bunkhouse or RV. They’ll even make you an “Instant Camper” by renting a full set of gear (or rent individual items like tents or flashlights).

Camping is available year-round in some locations, and some cabins include both heating and air-conditioning. If you’re camping between Memorial Day and Labor Day, weekend programs are often offered.

So, whether you’re a seasoned camper or trying it for the first time….whether you’re gathering a group of friends or family members….there really is a camping experience in Cook County for everyone. Accessible options are also available.

Check out some highlights for each campground below. For more details and reservations, visit FPCC’s website.

 

Camp Bullfrog Lake

If you’re hoping to get out on the water, Camp Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs is the place for you. Registered campers can rent single or tandem kayaks for a peaceful, scenic tour of this 16-acre lake. You can also fish Bullfrog Lake via an accessible fishing pier or along the southwestern shoreline (campers only).

What’s more campers can hook up with the extensive Palos Trail system. Overnight options include tent and RV sites, small cabins that sleep eight, and large cabins that sleep 10.

 

Camp Dan Beard

Small and large cabins are the name of the game at Northbrook’s Camp Dan Beard. Though organized groups can also reserve an open space for tent camping.

Nearby attractions include the Des Plaines River and the unpaved trail that follows the river through 12 different Forest Preserves. There’s also a carry-in canoe landing for the river at nearby Allison Woods, as well as fishing on tiny Potawatami Pond.

 

Camp Reinberg

Camp Reinberg in Palatine is situated in the oak woods of historic Deer Grove – the County’s first Forest Preserve, dating back over 100 years. And it’s not just historic…two areas within Deer Grove have been recognized by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission as some of the highest quality natural areas in the state.

Camp Reinberg offers tent and RV campsites, small cabins that sleep eight, large cabins that sleep 10, and even an expansive dining hall that can be reserved for groups up to 100. You’ll also have access to Deer Grove’s 15.5 mile trail system for exploring the preserve’s diverse habitats.

 

Camp Shabbona Woods

Camp Shabbona Woods in South Holland offers mulched tent sites, small cabins that sleep eight, and a clearing for activities. (Please note these cabins don’t have heat or air conditioning).
When you stay at Camp Shabbona Woods, scenic Sand Ridge Nature Center is just a short walk away. Sand Ridge is a 585-acre nature-based education and recreation area that allows visitors to explore the area’s rare dune-and-swale landscape.
Also nearby is Green Lake – where you can fish for largemouth bass, bluegill and rainbow trout – as well as the Green Lake Family Aquatic Center, which features a pool, lazy river, slide and water playground.

 

Camp Sullivan

Last but not least is Camp Sullivan, located in south suburban Oak Forest. Here, campers will find a unique way to stay and play – small and large bunkhouses that sleep 16 and 26 people, respectively. You can also opt for tent campsites in the woods and small cabins that sleep eight.

There’s also an iconic barn that be reserved for special events and activities. Bet you weren’t expecting this: Any registered camper can reserve one free hour of time to take on the barn’s indoor climbing wall (pending availability).

One last tip: Each campground has a limited number of Eco-Flora backpacks available for free check-out. These include binoculars, field guides, a compass and activity sheets.