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Thread: Please help. Chicago Area Camping

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    boris is on a distinguished road
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    Default Please help. Chicago Area Camping

    I can't figure this out. I just can't find a forest where I can be alone and camp without having to pay or be near other tents. I thought this would be much easier.

    I'm looking to go out camping for a couple of nights but all I seem to find are designated camping zones. IE 20 people camping feet away from each other. I was looking to just camp by myself in a forest and that's it but I can't find any information on that.

    I live in Buffalo Grove (60089) if that helps. There are the Lake County Forest Preserves which are perfect but I called and they said no camping is allowed. What is that BS? It's a damn forest. Ducks can sleep there year round but one person is not allowed to stay overnight?

    Please.. any help. I really just want a forest where I can come unannounced and not have to see any other people around me. Is it really this hard to find in IL?

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    Super Moderator renodesertfox is on a distinguished road renodesertfox's Avatar
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    Smile Shawnee National Forest, Il

    The Shawnee National Forest lies in the rough, unglaciated areas know as the Illinois Ozark and Shawnee Hills. Primitive camping is allowed on National Forest land 1/4 of a mile away from developed campgrounds and developed picnic areas. Camping is NOT allowed within Designated Natural Areas, Research Natural Areas nor within 150 feet of trails or municipal water sources. A permit is not required nor is there a fee, however, a 14-day limitation is in effect. Pets are welcome, but must be leashed and are not allowed in designated swimming areas.

    It's tough sometimes finding something in very populated areas of the mid-west and Atlantic northeast. The area from the rockies westward are a lot more sympathetic to the dispersed or free range camper. Good lock! Hope this helps? Keep us informed.

    Free camping – yes, you can camp for free in certain places. National Forests in the United States are public lands and have had a long tradition of allowing up to fourteen days camping without charge. This is primitive camping – it is likely that you won’t have any of the amenities of an established campground but if you’re ok with hauling your water in and digging a hole for your restroom, you can camp for free in National Forests. It’s called dispersed camping and it works like this:

    Dispersed camping in detail

    In National Forests, you drive through the forest service roads until you see a spot that you’d like to camp at. In almost every National Forest in the U.S., if you are patient and willing to go further, you will find a spot that somebody before you has camped. There will be a fire ring already in place and you just pull in and camp without having to pay anything to camp there. According to US law, you may legally camp in national forests for up to 14 days and you can continue camping free forever if you travel at least 30 miles to another camp site. This is one of the great secrets as established and managed campsites range in price from $10 – $30 a night for camping!

    I have pitched into National Forests and stayed two weeks at a time. Forest service roads are in fairly good condition and you can have a cheap camping trip without having a next door neighbor. It takes some effort to get off the beaten path but it is worth it to save in not having to pay for a camping spot. Consider National Forests as a public treasure since you know that you have to pay at least $25 just to drive into a National Park, not to mention the $20 a night to camp there, if you can even find a spot.

    With a little planning and some “roughing it” you can have a family vacation, close to home and not break the budget. This is why camping is truly the ultimate staycation
    Last edited by renodesertfox; 04-30-2010 at 11:15 AM.
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    Super Moderator renodesertfox is on a distinguished road renodesertfox's Avatar
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    Default Midewin National Tallgrass Praririe

    The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is located in northeast Illinois about 40 miles south of Chicago and covers 19,000 acres. There are no developed campgrounds and dispersed camping is not permitted. However, see below for camping suggestion.

    The Midewin (pronounced mi-day-win) National Tallgrass Prairie is neither a national forest or national grassland. What is it? It's a work in progress!

    Although there are no camping facilities at Midewin, consider Chippewa campground in the Kankakee River State Park, 13 miles south on State Rt. 102. From Chippewa campground, take State Rt. 102 north about 10 miles to Wilmington and State Rt. 53. Go north on Rt. 53 about 3 miles to the Midewin office.
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    Super Moderator renodesertfox is on a distinguished road renodesertfox's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Mezomanie, Wisconsin

    Try MEZOMANIE,WISCONSIN…its only like 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Chicago..and that place is awesome.. its called Blackhawk River Run.. You rent a canoe from them…and go canoe down Wisconsin River with all your camping gear and food, alchol… and then you pick a camp site on a island…… YEAH!! and no one is around you! You can scream at the top of your lungs at 2 in the morning.. no one checks on you!!! Then the next day your pack your gear from the camp site you were at..and go down the river again..to a spot..where the pick-up-place that rented you the canoe picks you up in a bus..and takes you up… to your car!!! We camped there in 1999. Go there early in the morning Saturday..and pickup on Sunday is 3pm or 5pm… You might like this!!!!
    References :
    Blackhawk River Runs (608) 643-6724, PO Box 57 Sauk City, WI 53583 ... River Run Ranch & Canoe Outfitters (888) 550-3174.

    Google: Blackhawk River Run

    Good luck!
    Get campin', Renodesertfox A canvas campateer
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    Super Moderator renodesertfox is on a distinguished road renodesertfox's Avatar
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    boris is on a distinguished road
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    Wow great list! I thought of Shawanee but it's on the very south tip of Illinois. That's quite a drive. Probably 6-7 hours, but looks like the perfect place.

    Midwin I also found but... isn't it a national forest? So camping SHOULD be allowed, it's even listed in the national forest website (that and Shawanee are the only two, apparently, in IL). So it's odd. I called them up the other day and they said no camping is allowed on their property.

    That canoe thing sounds... amazing. But I don't have a canoe licence if one is needed and it's way too adventurous for me, but that's so cool!

    Middlefork seems to just be another campground that charges. Man, I can't believe such places exist. Not only do they charge for what rightfully belongs to every living creature, I also can't even comprehend why people would want to camp next to each other. Might as well just set up a tent in your backyard. You'll have electricity, annoying people around you, a little poop corner and water if you like.. except that's free! It's so silly.

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    Super Moderator renodesertfox is on a distinguished road renodesertfox's Avatar
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    boris, at Midewin, the gov't is trying to restore the land. It was a major arsenal for all the armed forces back during WWII, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. It's going to take decades to clean up all that land. That is why no one is allowed to camp there yet. Maybe in 5 years. It's a work in progress. If Pres. Obama only serves one term the next president may shut the project down.

    You don't need a canoe license! You should check it out. At least drive up to MI on a weekend and scope it out. Back in 99 when we did it, we used our own kayak and paid about $50 for the launch fee and the pickup fee back to our jeep. There were people there who did the run when we were there that told us they had never been in a boat before. Sure they had on life jackets, everyone has to, but they camped around the bend from us and we only saw them at the pickup point and the drive back. Check it out, they had a blast! So did we, then we drove back to Chicago and watched the Cubs lose to the White Sox. Talk about rivalry! It's almost Civil War when those two play each other. Anyway, if you don't know how to paddle, they will teach you the basics, fit you with life jackets, pack your gear and you're on your own!

    Living in a very big city like Chicago you really got to stick with the internet and come up with different ways to say the same thing in an internet search. Like: Free camping in Chicago and Dispersed Camping Chicago, Windy City camping, etc...get my drift. Chicago campgrounds, Illinois dispersed campgrounds, free camping between Missouri and Indiana, savvy? Keep us posted to what you find. Post up your camping experiences and stay involved here, we can use all the help we can get! Just because I live in Reno Nevada doesn't mean I have never camped in the mid-west. We learn from each other. What you report or see will help somebody else whose lookin' too! Campin' in the mid-west around a populated center can be a challenge at times. Good luck!

    Campin' in your backyard ain't free...sewer bill to use your potty, electric bill, property tax, and mortgage payment. Maybe annoying neighbors too! MI has plenty of places to camp, but you gotta drive to get there. Even Missouri has dispersed camping, sure it's a drive and gas is expensive, but so too a person's happiness in a modern world. If we were in the 1800s then you could camp where you pleased, except there wasn't an internet then!
    Last edited by renodesertfox; 04-30-2010 at 06:47 PM.
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  8. #8

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    hey fox, had no clue we've been camping b4 in wi. But to bring this thread back..has anyone been back to the black river run again? Or are there other places to camp you'd recommend in wisconsin or midwest?

    Our camping trip has taken a detour...turns out the guy we were meeting in tn, might not even go. So yeah.. and that was only reason why we planned on going to TN.

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    Super Moderator renodesertfox is on a distinguished road renodesertfox's Avatar
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    Smile

    I gave you the resource to find any state park in any state, use that. I'm famaliar with the Boundary Waters in Minnesota but for WI I'm not. The closest I've ever been to WI is in Duluth on my way up to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, MN. And also St. Croix State Park in Pine County, MN and up to Rock Lake also in Pine County west of Sandstone, MN about 17 miles.
    Get campin', Renodesertfox A canvas campateer
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    yup using that map. Its really awesome. Thanks.

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