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Best Camping in Northern Illinois

The north boasts the state’s highest point: Charles Mound, at 1,235 feet. We did say Illinois is pretty flat… But this spike in elevation is indicative of the rugged surrounds you’re in for when camping in northern Illinois. Case in point, Starved Rock State Park. Full of forested bluffs, funky trees, waterfalls, canyons and dells, this is the most visited attraction in the entire state—which means that some may want an alternative. Luckily, Matthiessen State Park is nearby and equally magical with a similar vibe, minus a few crowds.

Way up in the northwest corner, the wooded ravines of Mississippi Palisades State Park burst with color in the spring (wildflowers) and fall (leaves). It’s also notable for rock climbing, views of the Mississippi, wildlife and Native American history. Outside the park, nestled in verdant rolling hills, Galena is small-town America at its finest. Its Main Street—with French Colonial, Greek Revival and Italianate architecture—is among the country’s most charming. Get spooked on a ghost tour or check out the local wares, then swig some craft moonshine at the Blaum Brothers Distilling Company.

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