If you are a nature lover looking for an ideal destination for your next RV vacation in Illinois, Moraine View State Recreation Area should be the first place to add to your bucket list. Located within McLean County, Moraine View State Recreation Area was first established in 1959 and features 1,679 acres of gently rolling hills, lush thicket, and the sparkling water of Dawson Lake. Moraine View lies in the middle of a big sprawling feature, Bloomington Moraine, which the glaciers carved in the early years. The landscape is covered by scattered groves of red and white oak, maple, hickory, black walnut, and elm.
The park offers many refreshing outdoor activities, including picnicking, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, and boating. For hikers, there are miles of trails that wind along the lake edges and grassy areas that you can explore once you park your camper. If you are a wildlife lover, Moraine View is home to deer, grouse, and rabbit. The most popular place for recreation in the summer is the 158-acre Dawson Lake; its waters offer plenty of aquatic adventures. There is fun for the whole family since the park hosts educational activities, guided walks, and evening programs. The park also offers a variety of winter activities like snowmobiling, ice fishing, and skating.
The Gander Bay Campground at Moraine View State Recreation Area is the perfect place to call home during your visit. Here you will find 102 RV friendly sites with electrical hookups scattered across the campground's multiple loops. Besides the RV campground, which operates year-round, other alternative camping sites are located within the group camping area and the equestrian camping area. Peak season at Moraine View State Recreation Area runs from mid-April until the end of October.
Moraine View Recreation Area is located in East Central Illinois, in the city of LeRoy. The Bloomington Moraine, which this park is known for, spans from Elgin to the Illinois River at Peoria east to Saybrook. The recreation area is located right in the center, just a few minutes east of Bloomington and Normal off I-74. The road into the park is well maintained, and you should have no issues navigating it if your RV is 35 feet or under.
There are many places nearby where you can stock up on any supplies that you may need. These include Le Roy (around seven miles away), Farmer City (about 17 miles away), and Gibson City (around 25 miles away). The closest major city to the park is Bloomington, which is only 19 miles to the northwest.
During the wintertime, Moraine View Recreation Area stays open, but the weather can be bad enough to cause major disruptions. If there has been significant snowfall in and around the park, it may be hard to access the campground, so we recommend calling ahead to the park office for updates on whether the park will be open or not.
Once inside the park, you should have no problem navigating in your car, a smaller RV or trailer, or any other vehicle. You will find that there is plenty of parking available. Parking lots are scattered all throughout the park, including near the trailheads and the picnic areas.
Gander Bay Campground is the main campground within Moraine View State Recreation Area, and it is known for having large flat sites that are great for RVs and trailers that are under 35 feet long. There are 137 campsites for you to choose from, all of which are equipped with electrical hookups. Most of the sites at Gander Bay Campground are back-in only, but there may be some sites in the center loops that could be pull-through. Apart from the electrical hookups, there are also plenty of other campground amenities, including water collection points, showers, toilets, and a central sanitary station. The campground is also pet-friendly, so you can bring your well-behaved dog along with you. Please note that you may struggle to get a cell phone reception, so if you want to unplug, this is the place to park. Breakfast and lunch are served daily at a restaurant within the campground, and the restaurant has a sitting capacity of 60 people. One hundred two sites at Gander Bay Campground are available for reservations, which we recommend you do so if you want to visit during the warmer months. If you visit during the wintertime, the sites are all available on a first-come, first-served basis only, and most of the campground amenities will be shut down for the season.
Not all of the winter months bring snow and blustery weather. Some weekends in the winter beg for camping, and at the Gander Bay Campground, a year-round facility, it's possible to camp whenever you feel like taking out your rig. While the campground operates on a reservation system during the peak season, during the off-season, campers can find a site on a first-come, first served basis. Be aware that many of the facilities are winterized during the offseason, so prepare your on-board systems for self-contained camping.
If you plan on bringing your horse to Moraine View State Recreation Area, there are also multiple equestrian-friendly sites for you to choose from. These sites are in their own separate campground and also come equipped with electrical hookups, water collection points, and hitching racks for your horse. If you are interested in staying at the equestrian campground, we recommend calling ahead to the park office to reserve a site or ask any questions you may have.
While RV camping is the most popular form of camping within the Moraine View State Recreation Area, there are also some other camping options. There are three group campsites within the Timber Ridge area that can accommodate up to 50 people per site, all of which are primitive with no hookups. These group campsites are available for reservation during the peak season and are walk-up only in the non-peak season. If tent camping is your thing, check out the tent camping areas located throughout the park.
During the colder winter months, Moraine View State Park is known to get a lot of snow, which provides ample opportunities for fun activities. You can go ice fishing and ice skating on the lake, as long as the ice is thick enough. There are also seven miles of trails that become available for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. There is a lot of fun to be had here in the wintertime, but remember to stay warm by bundling up if the weather is cold.
Fishing is an excellent activity for any time of the year that you visit the park. Dawson Lake is stocked with channel catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, bullhead, walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch, so there are many fish species that you could potentially catch. You can fish from your boat, the shoreline of the lake, or even from the handicap-accessible pier. You will need a fishing license to legally throw out a line, and we recommend you bring your own fishing gear in case there are no fishing rentals available onsite.
If you want to get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy some fresh air, you should get out and explore what's out there in Moraine View State Recreation Area. If you are looking for a short hike, you should take the half-mile Tanglewood Self-Guiding Nature Trail. For those who are wanting something a little more challenging, the Tall Timber Trail is 1.5-miles long, and it crosses over moderate terrain that will help to create a bit more of a rigorous walk. There is also a wheelchair-accessible trail, so nobody in your party will have to miss out on the fun.
If boating isn't really your thing and you brought your horse with you instead, you will be able to take it out for a ride whenever you please. There are more than 10 miles of bridle paths for you and your trusty steed to explore together, and they are located along the Timberland Ridge Trail. If you would like to stay overnight with your horse, there is an equestrian campground that you can use too. Now, horseback riding and camping just became easier to do.
The peak season is a great time to go boating, so feel free to take your boat out on Dawson Lake. Boating is a very popular activity, and for a good reason! You can take a sailboat or a motorized boat out on the lake, but if you take a motorized boat, make sure that it is 10 horsepower or less as this is the maximum allowed out on the water. If you did not bring your own boat, you could rent one at the concession stand, so nobody has to miss out on all of the boating fun that is on offer.
From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the best way to escape the heat is to enjoy a cool and refreshing dip in the waters of the lake. Within the Black Locust Picnic Area is a sandy beach area that is perfect for relaxing or swimming. Buoys mark the swimming area, but there are no lifeguards, so it is best to swim to your abilities. Pets and alcohol are also not permitted within the beach area at any time, so if you want to swim, plan to leave your pooch with another family member back at the RV.