The best camping near Shawnee National Forest

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Shawnee National Forest adventure.

94% (27 reviews)
94% (27 reviews)

Welcome to the wilderness in Illinois’ only national forest.  

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Community favorites near Shawnee National Forest

Top-rated campgrounds reviewed by the Hipcamp community.

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Public campgrounds in the park
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Stay at a public campground in Shawnee National Forest

Top-rated campgrounds near Shawnee National Forest

100%
(4)

Sonny Hills

4 sites · Lodging, RVs, Tents70 acres · Eddyville, IL
70 acres adjoining the Shawnee National Forest area with hiking trails and water activities. Close to Garden of the Gods, Rim Rock, Pounds Hollow, Belle Smith Springs, Lusk Creek and other trails. Cabin-2BR -1 Q, 1 K/1BA sleeps 4- possible 5, with Heating/ac, full kitchen with microwave and refrigerator, coffee pot, grill, laundry, NO INTERNET. Kitchen is stocked with coffee, creamer, sugar, cooking oil. Large great room, with native sandstone fireplace and nice views of private lake and hills. Hot tub. Fire pit. $85.00 for two people, each additional $20.00, $65.00 cleaning fee Primitive tent camping sites available . RV pads for self-contained campers . One Electric space available with notice. Water available from spigot and hose. No sewer. Porta-Potty on premises. No showers. Shade or sunny areas. Pets and service dogs welcome with reservations, Must be dog friendly (owner has 5 Irish Wolfhounds on property) and must show proof of vaccinations upon registering. Creeks, hills, hiking trails, and private pond full of bluegill, crappie, and bass. Kayaks, paddleboards canoe and boat. NO lifeguard on duty. Life preservers/jackets must be worn when around the pond. All above activities are done at your own risk, children must be supervised.
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$15
 / night
95%
(20)

Watson's Rivercamp Retreat

6 sites · RVs, Tents4 acres · Evansville, IN
Nestled on the banks of the Ohio River, this primitive camp is ideal for nearby fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming! Our unique location offers a picturesque view of downtown Evansville and Dutch’s Island. Set in a no-wake zone, the shallow beachy island also serves as a barrier from the river channel creating calm lake-like waters. We are located only 0.2mi from Dogtown boat ramp and 300ft from Nu Plaza marina. Biking, walking/hiking trails, local park, and pool nearby. On our property, we allow our campers the flexibility to pick their own perfect spot to camp. There are large mature trees that offer plenty of shade and flat ground for an easy setup. Each site has a firepit, picnic table, and nearby trash can. A firewood bundle is included and complimentary smores packages upon request. Our property features 2 communal areas each with a fire pit, charcoal grill, tables, chairs, and lights. There is access to electric power strips and water hoses in each communal area. Kayaks are available to registered campers only first come, first serve. Price is $25 or a single kayak, $50 for a tandem. Includes lifejackets. We look forward to having you!
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$25
 / night
100%
(30)

Tall Tree Lake

62 sites · RVs, Tents220 acres · Buncombe, IL
We are a 220 acre family owned and operated campground in the middle of the Shawnee National forest. We love providing a safe, beautiful, peaceful, and central location for people to enjoy our beautiful area. Fishing and hiking are welcomed for all of our guests! Located in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest. Close proximity to Ferne Clyffe State Park, Tunnel Hill Bike Trail, and only a 10 minute drive from I-24.
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$32
 / night

Rock Hole Meadow

6 sites · RVs, Tents8 acres · Stonefort, IL
We are in the process of cleaning up and improving our campsites!!! We will be back and up and running soon!!!! Nestled on an 8-acre rural property, we are in the process of transforming into a permanent primitive campground. New to Hipcamp and hosting, we offer a rural escape for witnessing the 2024 Solar Eclipse without breaking the bank on expensive hotel rooms in town. Committed to environmental stewardship, we prioritize eco-conscious practices such as reusing, recycling, and promoting the growth of native plant species. Each visit to our campground contributes to our mission of preserving this land for future generations. Our property boasts a spacious meadow, ideal for eclipse viewing, along with three wooded campsites equipped with fire pits. Accessible via a short walk from the designated parking area, the wooded campsites are clearly marked for your convenience. For eclipse viewing, we provide three dispersed primitive/car camping spots in the meadow. Please note that the meadow may become muddy during this season, so exercise caution when selecting your camping area. Additionally, a communal fire pit is available for those camping in the meadow. Facilities include a porta-potty with no running water, with plans for future construction of bathrooms and showers. Conveniently located just 5 minutes from Carrier Mills, Illinois, you can easily stock up on any necessities during your stay.
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$20
 / night
100%
(4)

BS Ranch

43 sites · RVs, Tents22 acres · Stonefort, IL
BS Ranch is offering boon docking camping. Escape the crowded campgrounds and enjoy serenity and nature. We have some hiking on our property as well with trails within 1-2 miles from our ranch. Sand Cave, Trigg Tower, Jackson Falls, Lusk Creek, Burden Falls, Bell Smith Springs Falls to name a few of the must see sites. Our beautiful ranch is located in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, come and explore all of its beautiful 289,000 acres nestled in Southern Illinois. It features beautiful oak-hickory forests, wetlands, lush canyons, razorback ridges and unique geological features like The Garden of the Gods. There are miles of hiking, bicycling and equestrian trails, kayaking, canoeing and a rare convergence of six natural ecological regions with a diversity of plant and animal species. We are centrally located between the Shawnee Forest, Little Lusk Wilderness, Bay Creek Wilderness, Burden Fall Wilderness and Garden of the Gods Wilderness. Pets must be on a leash at all times please and No Pit Bulls Allowed.
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$100
 / night
97%
(32)

Camp Ondessonk

9 sites · Tents983 acres · Ozark, IL
Operating since 1959, Camp Ondessonk is a non-profit youth camp on 983 acres of beautiful wooded property adjacent to the Shawnee National Forest. Guests have access to several miles of paved road for walking and cycling, 15 miles of on-site hiking and biking trails, and access to a huge network of public Shawnee National Forest trails including the River-to-River Trail. Our property is home to the tallest free-falling waterfall in Illinois, Cedar Falls, as well as rock bottom creeks, canyons, prairies, forests, and hills. Detailed trail maps of our property and the surrounding area are available. Guests are welcome to stroll the grounds, observe our horses grazing in the pastures, enjoy views of our lakes and forests, or relax by the campfire. Stop by the Camp Store at the Trading Post to purchase Ondessonk apparel, souvenirs, or essential items. To schedule a guided hike, boating, archery, or horseback riding program, or test yourself on our high challenge course or climbing wall, contact Ondessonk staff for program availability and more information. The Camp Kitchen can prepare certain meals for you; contact us for meal availability and more information. 
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$7
 / night
100%
(24)

Barbara W.’s Land

26 sites · Tents25 acres · Tunnel Hill, IL
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$50
 / night
88%
(44)

Ande's Place 148 Green Rd, Kuttawa

2 sites · RVs, Tents60 acres · Kuttawa, KY
Learn more about this land:Rolling Hills and wide-open spaces. Primitive to (6) full-service (water, sewer, and 120, 30, or 50 amp electric) camping, located on 60 acres of rolling hills and timber just a few minutes walk to Lake Barkley in beautiful Kentucky. Wooded areas with plenty of room to enjoy yourselves without being on top of your neighbors.  Our address is 148 Green Rd. Kuttawa, KY 42055. NOTE: Our primitive tent sites are $20 per night and our Full hook-up sites are $29. Please call us to verify availability before booking!
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$29
 / night

Fullerosa Horseback And Hunting

1 site · RV, Tent65 acres · Eddyville, IL
Experience unparalleled privacy, seclusion, and the soothing sounds of nature during your stay in this expansive and distinctive retreat. Unlike any other private property in the vicinity, our land boasts an array of natural features including ponds, waterfalls, cliffs, bluffs, fields, forests, trails, and creeks scattered throughout. With several trails branching out in all directions into the Shawnee National Forest, exploration opportunities abound. Each of our spacious campsites is thoughtfully designed to afford maximum privacy, ensuring a peaceful and undisturbed retreat into nature. Just a short 5-10 minute drive down the road, Burden Falls awaits, offering a scenic natural wonder to explore. The Garden of the Gods, another iconic attraction, is a mere 15-20 minute drive away, inviting you to marvel at its breathtaking rock formations and panoramic vistas. For added convenience and indulgence, homemade breakfast and lunch sandwiches are available upon request, allowing you to savor delicious meals without the hassle of preparation. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and indulge in the ultimate retreat experience at our unique property.
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$75
 / night
67%
(3)

Hidden Bluff

1 site · RV, Tent5 acres · Grantsburg, IL
Perfect for Tent, Car or Backpack camping, you can sleep under the stars, sit by the campfire, and view the beauty of nature on a gorgeous 5 acre woodland property located at the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. Nestled between Herron Pond, Cave Creek, Little Black Slough, and Mermet Swamps, Cache River State Nature Area, Ferne Cliff State Park, Sampsons Mountain, Lake Glendale, Little Grand Canyon, Dixon Springs State Park, Jackson Falls, Tunnel Hill State Trail, Dutchman Lake, Garden of the Gods, Burden Falls, Lake of Egypt, Giant City State Park, Cave-in-Rock State Park, and Belle Smith Springs, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery, great hiking, repelling, picnicking, boating, hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, and botanic wonders! It is also located between the Southern Illinois and Shawnee Hills Wine Trails.
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$25
 / night
86%
(7)

Robyn M.’s Land

81 sites · RVs, Tents42 acres · Tamms, IL
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$20
 / night
92%
(12)

Red Gate Farm, LLC

2 sites · Lodging, Tents50 acres · Creal Springs, IL
Welcome to Red Gate Farm, LLC, a farm with a vision! We previously ran a very successful Hipcamp site at our previous property, but completely relocated and are starting fresh! We purchased 50 acres of GORGEOUS timbered property, with rolling forested hills, several creeks, trees towering over 100 feet tall, and abundant wildlife. It's absolutely perfect for Hipcamp! Building a new farm (and Hipcamp program) from scratch takes time--years even, but we decided now is as a good a time as any to share our beautiful timber with Hipcampers looking for some peace and privacy. While the site itself will be groomed and set up as listed, the surrounding grass won't be perfectly green yet, there will still be a lot of dead-wood and natural debris around the sites, and trails are a bit rough and uneven. If you can overlook the "rustic" aspects though, and enjoy the beauty of the peace and quiet of just enjoying nature, as it has sat unmanaged for roughly 50 years around the sites, then you are likely to love every moment! If you desire more adventure than just hanging around and enjoying nature, be sure to check out the additional experiences we offer here on the farm, as well as the entire surrounding area. Southern IL is made up of the Shawnee National Forest and multiple state parks and recreational areas. You can find a wide variety of activities to keep you busy! Even the local towns have much to offer, whether you enjoy fine dining, casual restaurants, antique shopping, or a nice theater production.
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from 
$25
 / night

The best camping near Shawnee National Forest guide

Overview

About

Rambling across more than a quarter-million acres and nine counties in southernmost Illinois, Shawnee National Forest has ancient woodlands, rocky bluffs, lakes, and caves, all hemmed in by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Choose from more than 403 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, discover the dramatic sandstone cliffs of the Garden of the Gods, go rock climbing at Jackson Falls, or enjoy fishing and canoeing along the lakes and creeks. Campers can choose from nine campgrounds, two of which provide electric hook-ups, as well as dispersed camping in several areas of the forest. 

Notable campgrounds

  • Best for hikers: Garden of the Gods Recreation Area has 12 non-electric campsites with easy access to the popular hiking trails. 
  • Best for RVs: Lake Glendale Beach has 59 lakeside sites, 34 with electric hook-ups, plus showers and flush toilets.
  • Best for equestrian campers: Camp Cadiz Campground is a tranquil spot with basic facilities and eight non-electric sites.

Tips for snagging a campsite

  1. All campgrounds at Shawnee National Forest are available on a first-come, first-served basis—advance reservations are not possible. 
  2. Smaller sites may fill up quickly over summer and holiday weekends, so plan an early Friday arrival if possible.

When to go

Outdoor adventurers benefit from mild weather year-round in the Shawnee National Forest. Spring and fall are the most colorful times to explore, when trails bloom with wildflowers or shed a rainbow of fall foliage. Many hiking trails are accessible right through winter, but snowfall is possible in the coldest months, so dress accordingly. Camping is also possible year-round, although some campgrounds close from December through March. 

Know before you go

  • Shawnee National Forest is located in southernmost Illinois. Travel times depend on which part of the forest you’re traveling to, but most destinations are within a 2- or 2.5-hour drive of St. Louis
  • There is no admission fee to visit Shawnee National Forest, but camping fees may apply. 
  • Facilities include restrooms and picnic areas, but not much else—fill up on gas and pick up groceries from the nearest town before you enter the forest. Cell phone and GPS service is patchy throughout the forest.
  • Accessible day-use areas, campsites, and restrooms are available at Shawnee National Forest. 

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