| Story by Meghan McMahon |
Is there a better way to enjoy the great outdoors than camping? Taking in all the sights and sounds of nature by day and sleeping under the stars by night.
For many people, camping brings back memories of childhood trips to places yonder, but you don’t have to fill up the gas tank and hit the open road to find the perfect place to pitch a tent. You can camp right in your own backyard both literally or figuratively with several campsites within the Will County forest preserves.
Whether you’re camping for the first time and don’t want to venture too far from the comfort of home or are just craving a break from the daily grind for a night or two, the Forest Preserve District’s campsites offer everything you need to get away from it all.
Forest preserve campsites are primitive. Camping requires a permit, and the cost to reserve a campsite is $20 per night for Will County residents and $40 per night for non-residents. Youth group organizations receive a 50 percent discount.
Camping permits, which are available to those age 18 or older, must be acquired at least two business days before your reservation. For weekend camping, permits must be obtained by 4 p.m. Wednesday. Permits can be applied for online or at the following visitor centers:
- Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon
- Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville
- Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township
- Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet
If you’ve never camped and would like to try it without the expense of purchasing tents, sleeping bags and other equipment, consider our “No Gear, No Problem” rental program. Two- and four-person equipment rental packages are available, and individual equipment items can be rented as well. Per-night prices are as follows:
- Four-person package: $40.
- Two-person package: $25.
- Four-person tent: $20.
- Two-person tent: $20.
- Sleeping bag: $10.
- Lantern: $5.
Camping gear must be reserved in advance, and it must be rented in conjunction with a Forest Preserve District camping permit. Rentals must be reserved at least 1½ days before your camping reservation, and gear can be picked up at the Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Equipment can be returned from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at Sugar Creek.