One of the best ways to reconnect with nature is to pop a tent right in the middle of it! The Forest Preserve offers camping at five locations within Will County. Check out our primitive campsites and book your reservation today. A permit is required for use of all campsites.
All campsites have access to nearby fire pits, accessible latrines and a water fountain or hand pump. Water is not available during the winter months.
Getting a camping permit
Campsites are available for rental on a first-come, first-served basis. A permit is required for all campsite rentals. Renters must be 18 years or older to obtain a permit.
Permits in a calendar year become available on the first business day of the new year. No tentative reservations are issued.
A permit must be obtained no less than two business days prior to the reservation. This means that reservations for the upcoming weekend must be made by close-of-business (4 p.m.) on Wednesday.
Camping permits can be obtained in-person at one of the following District visitor centers:
- Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon
- Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Bolingbrook
- Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville
- Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township
- Sugar Creek Administration Center, Joliet
Permits also can be obtained online by using the "make a reservation" link below.
A permit grants exclusive use of a campsite beginning at noon on the day of the reservation. Campers must arrive at the preserve before sunset. All campers must remain in the preserve after the preserve closes. Campers must clean up and exit the campsite by noon on the last day of the reservation. Closing times vary by season but all District preserves close at sunset.
Price per campsite:
- Will County Resident: $20/night
- Nonresident: $40/night
A 50 percent discount is offered to youth group organizations.
Camping equipment rental
Rentable items include tents, sleeping pads, and rechargeable lanterns through the District's "No Gear, No Problem" rental program. Equipment can be rented in two- or four-person packages.
Gear package fees are $25 a night for either a two- or four-person packages. Packages include a two- or four-person tent, lanterns, sleeping pads and roasting sticks.
Camping gear must be rented in conjunction with a Forest Preserve camping permit and requires a reservation. Gear rentals can be made by phone or in person when making a camping reservation. Gear reservations must be made a minimum of 1.5 business days in advance. This means that any rentals for the upcoming weekend must be reserved by the end of the business day on Wednesday for a Friday afternoon checkout.
Gear can be picked up by arrangement at Sugar Creek Administration Center from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. You must have a valid credit card, a government ID and a completed rental agreement at the time of pickup. Returns are accepted from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Sugar Creek.
Forked Creek Preserve – Ballou Road Access
This preserve hosts two campsites that can each accommodate two 4-person tents comfortably. One site is on a concrete pad and ADA accessible.
Nearby amenities include 0.67 mile of crushed limestone trail and access to the crushed limestone Wauponsee Glacial Trail, the Ballou Road Access Shelter and a dog park.
Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve
This preserve offers nine individual campsites, but is also ideal for large group camping trips. Each site can accommodate up to six 4-person tents comfortably and contains a fire ring and picnic table. There are two ADA accessible campsites available. To inquire about hosting a large group camping trip or camporee, please contact Plum Creek Nature Center at 708-946-2216.
Nearby amenities include 2.30 miles of natural surface and paved preserve trails, and the 3.17-mile crushed limestone Plum Creek Greenway Trail as well as Plum Creek Nature Center.
Hammel Woods – DuPage River Access
This preserve has six campsites that can each accommodate two 4-person tents comfortably. There are no ADA accessible sites at this location.
Nearby amenities include the 3.7-mile paved DuPage River Trail, fishing and canoeing/kayaking on the DuPage River, and a dog park.
McKinley Woods – Frederick's Grove
Camping at this preserve is unavailable November 1-April 15.
This preserve has four campsites that can each accommodate two 4-person tents comfortably. Two campsites are placed on concrete slabs and are ADA accessible.
Nearby amenities include the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' 61.5-mile crushed limestone I&M Canal State Trail, fishing and canoeing/kayaking on the Des Plaines River, and Frederick's Grove Shelter.
Messenger Woods Nature Preserve
This preserve has four campsites that can each accommodate two 4-person tents comfortably. Two sites are on concrete slabs and are ADA accessible.
Nearby amenities include 1.98 miles of natural surface trail and the Hawthorn Grove and Oak Knoll shelters.
This is a nature preserve and, therefore, dogs are not permitted on the natural surface trails.
Camping rules and regulations
The following rules and regulations must be agreed to prior to obtaining a camping permit. All preserve rules must also be followed while visiting a District preserve.
- The permit holder is subject to all rules and regulations contained in the Forest Preserve District of Will County's General Use Ordinance No. 124, the Illinois Criminal Code, the Illinois Vehicle Code, and the Illinois Game and Fish Codes.
- Falsification of information and/or violation of rules, regulations, or District ordinances will result in the denial and/or revocation of the permit, forfeiture of the fees, fines, and/or the cancellation/termination of the permitted event.
- Permit holder must be 18 years of age or older and must be present during the reservation.
- The permit is valid only for the date, time and name listed on the permit.
- Changes to the date or location of this permit must be done no later than two business days prior to the reservation.
- Refunds will not be given for canceled reservations. The District is not responsible for permitted events canceled due to inclement weather.
- The District reserves the right to close and/or limit access within the preserves during regular hours when safety and/or weather conditions warrant such actions.
- The District assumes no liability for injuries that occur as a result of the permitted activity.
- All campers must arrive at the preserve prior to regular preserve closing hours. After closing hours, campers must remain at their campsite. There should be no entering or exiting of the preserve after closing hours unless there is an emergency. Gates to the preserve will be closed at preserve close hours, but will remain unlocked for emergency exit. Preserve closing times vary by season and are listed below.
- November - February: 4 p.m.
- March - April: 6 p.m.
- May - August: 8 p.m.
- September - October: 6 p.m.
- Campers must depart from their campsite by 12:00 p.m. on the last day of their reservation.
- No driving or parking on the grass, sidewalks or trails. Vehicles are only permitted to be in designated parking areas and on roadways.
- Start fires only in designated fire rings or grills. Building fires on the grass is prohibited. Fires must be extinguished before the reservation end time. Dispose of hot coals in fire pits and grills only.
- Gathering firewood is prohibited. To help reduce the risk of spreading Emerald Ash Borer, please obtain firewood within a 50-mile radius of the preserve. Do not transport firewood across state lines in accordance with mandates from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
- Cutting trees, limbs, or shrubs is prohibited.
- Music must not be audible beyond the immediate vicinity nor should it disturb other visitors or permitted groups.
- Fireworks and other pyrotechnics are strictly prohibited.
- Use of devices capable of discharging a projectile is prohibited.
- Do not mark on or affix anything (tents, signs, banners, balloons, piñatas, etc.) to trees, District signs, shelters, structures, or buildings. Strapping, pinning, gluing, or stapling to any shelter post, table, or other District structure is prohibited.
- All trash must be cleaned up and placed in designated receptacles upon departure.
- Pets must be leashed. Leashes in excess of 10 feet are not allowed. Owners must clean up after pets.
- Call 911 in an emergency.
- In a non-emergency, call the Will County Sheriff's dispatch at 815-727-6191 to reach a Forest Preserve officer.