Illinois is a state that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention for its outdoor recreation. For most visitors, Chicago dominates their itinerary and there's little time for enjoying the natural riches just outside the city. Fortunately, there are a few gems just a short drive away –– one of which is Chain O’ Lakes State Park.
Up near the Wisconsin border, Chain O’ Lakes State Park features the largest concentration of natural lakes in the state of Illinois. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, Chain O’ Lakes RV parks can feel strangely quiet, with the sound of a fish jumping sometimes being the only thing to break the silence. Choosing an RV rental for Chain O’ Lakes State Park is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience this beautiful section of the state. Let’s have a look at how you can do just that and how Cruise America can help you get there.
Chain O’ Lakes State Park Facts
If you’re not from northern Illinois, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Chain O’ Lakes State Park. As the name suggests, its main feature is a string of lakes that are connected by the Fox River. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting Chain O’ Lakes State Park facts before diving into where to camp while visiting the area.
- The park was created in 1945 and was enlarged to its present boundaries in 1957 after absorbing a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.
- Chain O’ Lakes State Park features 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline.
- Lake Michigan is less than an hour away if you’re looking for big water adventures and beaches.
- Chain O’ Lakes is a water lover’s paradise. Three lakes sit on the boundary of the park and seven more are connected to it by the Fox River.
- The park is a little over an hour north of Chicago and an hour south of Milwaukee, making it a popular weekend getaway for both cities.
Now that you know a little more about the park, let’s move on to the best places to go RV camping near Chain O’ Lakes State Park.
Best Chain O’ Lakes RV Parks and Campgrounds
There are over 230 sites within the state park at the Honeysuckle Hollow and Fox Den campgrounds. If you can snag a reservation during the summer, these are your best options for Chain O’ Lakes State Park RV sites. Due to the park’s proximity to some major cities though, getting a reservation can be problematic. These are a few of the best RV campgrounds near Chain O’ Lake State Park.
Fox River Recreation
Amenities: Just up the Fox River from Chain O’ Lakes, this is one of the more amenity-heavy campgrounds in the area. Here you’ll find coin-operated showers and laundry, a dump station, a playground, a video game-filled entertainment area, and a small camp store stocked with essentials. You can also rent canoes for a small fee for use on the river.
Capacity: 166 RV sites
More Information: Fox River Recreation
Fish Lake Beach Camping Resort
Amenities: A little less than a half-hour south, Fish Lake is one of the better Chain O’ Lakes RV campgrounds in the area. It’s conveniently located near the intersection of Highway 12 and 120, near both the Volo Auto Museum and Jurassic Gardens. The park has full hookups, laundry facilities, showers, a dump station, a mini-golf course, a volleyball court, and boat rentals.
Capacity: 639 RV sites
More Information: Fish Lake Beach Camping Resort
Happy Acres Kampground
Amenities: Happy Acres is about a half-hour north of Chain O’ Lakes near Bristol, Wisconsin. It features loads of recreational facilities including a mini-golf course, volleyball court, basketball court, and swimming pool. It also includes a private fishing pond on the grounds where no fishing license is required and it is stocked with bass, bluegill, and catfish. There are also shower facilities, restrooms, and an animal barn where you can get up close with llamas, geese, and even peacocks.
Capacity: 179 RV sites
More Information: Happy Acres Kampground
Illinois Beach State Park
Amenities: This park is 40 minutes due east on the western shore of Lake Michigan and is one of the best places to stay near Chain O’ Lakes that has a beach. The park offers electrical hookups, showers, restrooms, but has fewer amenities than some of the private campgrounds in the area.
Capacity: 241 RV sites
More Information: Illinois Beach State Park
Big Foot Beach State Park
Amenities: This park sits on the eastern shore of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin and has an excellent swimming beach. Like Chain O’ Lakes, it offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and cross-country skiing along its five miles of trail. There’s a dump station, restrooms, and showers, with about a third of the RV sites having electrical hookups.
Capacity: 100 RV sites
More Information: Big Foot Beach State Park
Best Time To Visit Chain O’ Lakes State Park for RV Camping
Northern Illinois experiences all four seasons, which makes for an endless variety of recreational opportunities while staying in Chain O’ Lakes State Park RV campgrounds. These are just a few of the reasons to visit in each season.
This is the quietest time of year to visit the park, and honestly, one of the most interesting. The lakes freeze over and trails are covered in snow, leaving ample opportunities for ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. The downside to off-season travel is that many of the RV parks are closed for the season, so be sure to check before planning an RV camping trip to Chain O’ Lakes State Park.
The flowers are blooming and the birds are starting to sing, but it’s still too cold to get in the water. Kayaking, fishing, and hiking are still on the table though, and the summer crowds haven’t yet arrived. At this time, it should be much easier to reserve a site at one of the RV parks near Chain O’ Lakes State Park.
As a watersports heavy park, summer will be the most popular time for RV camping in Chain O’ Lakes State Park. The sun is shining, the water is warm, and an abundance of wildlife is on display. Unfortunately, the park can get crowded, and reservations at nearby RV parks are harder to come by. Factor that into your calculations of when is the best time to visit Chain O’ Lakes State Park.
Autumn in northern Illinois can be rather chilly, far too cold for swimming in one of the many lakes here. The fishing is great though and cooler temperatures make hiking through the changing leaves an even more enjoyable experience. Fall is about more than just strolls through pleasantly-colored foliage; it’s also the beginning of hunting season. While RV camping near Chain O’ Lakes State Park, you can hunt doves, waterfowl, pheasant, and deer (archery only).
Things To Do in Chain O’ Lakes State Park
You’re never bored when you get an RV rental for Chain O’ Lakes State Park. No matter the season or your preferred activities, there’s something for everyone here.
Hiking. While watersports are the main draw here, one of the best things to do in Chain O’ Lakes State is hit the trails. There are four trail systems within the park ranging from a quarter-mile, all the way up to eight miles on the equestrian trails.
Horseback Riding. Hop on a horse and explore the trails when you get an RV rental at Chain O’ Lakes State Park. The park stables offer rides between 40 minutes and two hours for very reasonable prices.
Fishing. A year-round activity, Chain O’ Lakes is famous for its largemouth bass, walleye, and northern pike. Come prepared and you can have the lake mostly to yourself in the cold winter months.
Archery. There’s a beautiful archery range along the Fox River with 3D targets ranging from ten to 50 yards. It’s open from the middle of spring until hunting season starts.
Cross-Country Skiing. Those 16 miles of hiking trails mentioned earlier double as country-country ski tracks in the winter. The equestrian trails are ideal, as they’re not too steep and are suitable for novice skiers.
Tips for Visiting Chain O’ Lakes State Park
RV camping in Chain O’ Lakes State Park isn’t overly complicated, but there are a few things you should know that’ll make your stay more enjoyable.
- Hit up all of Illinois’s state parks! They’re one of the few states where non-residents don’t need to pay for day use.
- If you’re fishing on Turner Lake, know that only trolling motors are allowed.
- You can save time by purchasing your hunting or fishing license online from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
- Since it’s so close to Chicago, be sure to make your summer reservations months in advance when RV camping near Chain O’ Lakes State Park.
- Know that alcohol is prohibited while RV camping in Chain O’ Lakes State Park. If you want to drink during your stay, it’s best to choose one of the nearby RV parks.
RV Rental for Chain O’ Lakes State Park
Are you itching to plan a trip to northern Illinois? Getting an RV rental for Chain O’ Lakes State Park is one of the best ways to explore the area. Cruise America has an excellent selection of RV rentals, allowing you to travel at the height of luxury or minimalism –– you decide.
Additionally, all of Cruise America’s RV rentals are thoroughly inspected after each rental, so you can have peace of mind that there won’t be any hiccups during your trip.
If you’re ready to start your journey, contact Cruise America today to set up your RV rental!