Looking for state parks near Chicago? Fortunately, there are plenty of options. The Chicagoland area is home to a handful of state parks within short driving distance from the Windy City. These are your best bets if you’re searching for a nearby state park.
State Parks near Chicago
Of all the state parks near Chicago, Chain O Lakes is perhaps the best option for outdoors enthusiasts. It’s a 2,793-acre state park in Spring Grove near the Wisconsin border. You’ll find nearly 200 camping sites, 80 acres set aside as a nature preserve, and great fishing and canoeing options on the lakes.
A little farther east of Chain O Lakes is Illinois Beach, which is right on Lake Michigan about 48 miles north of Chicago, making it one of the closest state parks to Chicago – and a super convenient option if you happen to live on the north side of the city. You can even bike all the way there on a series of trails. And you can bring alcohol, which is not the case at many state parks near Chicago.
For Chicagoans living on the south side, head 60 miles further south to reach Kankakee River. It’s a basic state park with 260 camping spots, plus hiking and biking opportunities. Some are rustic sites with no showers or electricity, in case you’re into that sort of thing.
Channahon is another site located less than an hour’s drive from Chicago. Please note that this park doesn’t have any campgrounds, although primitive camping is permitted. This is more of a place to come hang out during the day, maybe do some grilling and hiking and play a little frisbee.
Don’t forget about this popular state park in Indiana. It’s closer to Chicago than Illinois Beach or Chain O Lakes, and it has a lot to offer, with camping sites, sand dunes you can hike, and a lengthy beach area. It’s a popular park for families with kids. Be sure to make campground reservations in advance because they often fill up.
For more state parks in the Chicagoland area, and to see a visual representation of campgrounds and state parks near Chicago, check out our campground map.
Image: Creative Commons user I Bird 2