If you're looking to escape the mundane city life and enjoy a fun-filled camping trip, pack up the RV and head to northeast Illinois. Stretching 11 miles along its namesake river, Kankakee State Park offers visitors a wide array of outdoor recreation in an undisturbed natural setting. Throughout its long history, Kankakee State Park has been an important area for many reasons. The land the park sits on was once home to Native Americans, and later became a trading hub, and eventually farmland. Today, visitors can utilize the park to participate in canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, RV camping, and more.
There's no bad time to visit Kankakee State Park, as the gates remain open for outdoor recreation year-round. The Kankakee River flows directly through the park, providing 11 miles of fun for boaters and anglers. If you didn't bring your own canoe to the park, private outfitters can be found in the area. There are also miles of trails available to hikers, bikers, horseback riders, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. Hunting is allowed during designated seasons, and there is also an archery range on-site if you'd like to brush up on your skills during your RV vacation. After a busy day of exploring the park, you can hunker down at one of the many picnicking areas, or go back to camp and relax in the motorhome.
Kankakee State Park is equipped with two RV-friendly campgrounds with over 200 sites in total. Most sites are equipped with electricity, while some are more primitive with no hookups. There is also an equestrian and an organized group campground available. There are even two cabins for those looking to stay in comfort during their time at the park.
Kankakee River State Park is located along its namesake river in northeast Illinois, just an hour south of Chicago. The park's convenient location makes it easy to access, even for those with big rigs, with major routes available on both sides of the river. Both I-57 and I-55 are also just a stone's throw from the park, along with the town of Kankakee, where you can gas up the campervan or stock up on supplies before entering the park. The Kankakee River splits the park into two sections, the north being accessible by IL-102, and the south accessible by IL-113.
The main park entrance is on the north side of the river, along with both RV campgrounds. Visitors will also find various trails, picnicking areas, a bot launch, the archery range, and the organized group campground on the north side of the park (among other things). The south side of the park is mainly for hunting and snowmobiling, but visitors will also find an equestrian campground and a boat launch on this side of the river.
There's plenty of additional parking available throughout the park, especially on the north side of the river.
Chippewa Campground is the smaller of the two at the park and is located on the northwest side of the river. There are an additional 98 sites available here, some with electric hookups and some with no hookups at all. Guests will find a picnic table and fire ring at each site, and vault toilets, water spigots, and a dump station are inside of the campground. There is also a playground and bike trail available nearby. There are a few ADA-accessible sites, and all sites are pet-friendly. Lengths of sites do vary, so be sure to book one that can accommodate your rig. Chippewa Campground is open from April through November and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
Potawatomi Campground is the larger of the two offered at Kankakee River State Park. Located in a wooded setting on the northeast side of the river, Potawatomi's four loops offer a total of 110 Class A campsites. Each site is equipped with electric hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring, and hot showers, vault toilets, a dump station, and water taps are all available within the campground. Guests will also be close to various hiking and biking trails when they stay at Potawatomi Campground. All sites are pet-friendly, and some are ADA-accessible. Site lengths vary, so be sure to book a site that will accommodate your RV. The campground is open from April through October, and reservations are available up to six months in advance.
If you’re looking for a campground outside of Chicago, but still within close driving distance to the city, then Kankakee South is for you! Only an hour south of Chicago, bring your 75-foot big rig and power up with 50-amp service underneath the shady oaks. Equipped with Wi-Fi and a community pavilion, you’ll easily stay connected both on and offline. Unplug from it all and go to the nearby Kankakee River State Park for your favorite wilderness pastimes. Propane and firewood are on hand at the site to keep you in full supply.
After a full day of riding the trails at Kankakee River State Park, you and your horse can rest easy at the on-site equestrian campground. Located on the south side of the river, the campground is in close proximity to riding trails, and there are also vault toilets and water spigots nearby. Reservations are not available at the equestrian campground, so call or stop in at the visitor center to learn more.
Those looking to get out of the campervan for a night or two can rent one of the park's cabins. The two rent-a-cabins are located in the Potawatomi Campground and offer modern creature comforts like heat and electricity. Guests will find the cabins fully furnished but may want to bring along basic cooking and cleaning supplies. Each cabin is ADA-accessible and can sleep up to six guests (no pets allowed). There are a picnic table and fire ring outside of each cabin, and restrooms and showers are just a short walk away.
If you are planning a camping trip for an organized youth or church group, you can stay at the Davis Creek Campground. This group campground is set aside for chaperoned groups and can accommodate a minimum of ten people. If you are expecting to camp with more than 25, you will need to acquire an activity permit from the park office (free of charge). The campground is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings, and vault toilets are also available nearby. Pets are also allowed at this tent-only campground, but you'll have to leave the RVs in the nearby parking lot. Davis Creek Campground is open year-round, with reservations available between May and October.
Even when the cold sets in and a healthy layer of snow covers Kankakee River State Park, there is still plenty of fun to be had. Pack the campervan full of your winter gear and come enjoy your favorite winter activities. On the north side of the river, visitors can trek the serene trails via cross-country skis, while the south side of the river offers trails for snowmobilers. However, you choose to enjoy the snow at the park, be sure to dress in layers.
If you brought your horses along on your RV vacation to Kankakee River State Park, you'll find plenty of areas to take a ride. On the south side of the park below the Kankakee River, equestrians will find a 12-mile horseback riding trail. This trail is available from early April through October, and there is even an equestrian campground available during this time as well. There are also riding stables located on the north side of the park near the park entrance.
The Kankakee River is good for more than just canoeing. Anglers can also utilize this calm water to try and reel in a number of species, including walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and channel catfish. You can cast out from the shoreline, or utilize the two park boat launches if you prefer to drop a line via boat. Anglers should note that only watercraft with a horsepower limit of ten or less are allowed on the river.
After a full day of enjoying the park, you can take to one of the picnic areas to enjoy a scenic outdoor meal. There are two main picnicking areas near the park entrance, both of which are equipped with, tables, water spigots, playgrounds, restrooms, and shelters with grills. These shelters can be reserved in advance for a fee. If you are staying overnight, you can enjoy a picnic right outside of the pop-up, as each campsite is equipped with a picnic table and fire ring.
Don't forget to pack your hiking boots along in the Airstream, because there are miles of trails to explore at Kankakee River State Park. One of the most popular trails at the park is a three-mile route that stretches along Rock Creek. Hikers will walk past stunning limestone canyons, and there is even a waterfall at the end of the trail. If hiking isn't your favorite way to discover the park, there are also certain trails available for biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.
An RV vacation to Kankakee River State Park wouldn't be complete without spending some time on the river. Eleven miles of the Kankakee River cuts its way through the park, and you could easily spend a day (or even two) paddling along the serene water. The river is fairly shallow, so even if you've never canoed before you can do so here without having to worry about rushing rapids or white water. The park has two boat launches, one on each side of the river, and if you didn't bring your own canoe along, rentals are available nearby.