So you’re thinking of going on a summer road trip but can’t think of anywhere specific to go. The northeast has the coastline, history, and big cities. The southeast has picturesque beaches, big name theme parks, and world-renowned cuisine. The west coast has deserts, canyons, and of course, SoCal. So what does the Midwest have? Corn? Winter snow? The Midwest isn’t a typical vacation destination, but there’s plenty to do, if you’re looking for it. One thing to keep in mind is that the winters are often very harsh, but the fall, spring, and summer are pleasant. No matter what you’re looking for, the Midwest has it: beaches/lakes, theme parks, and forest. Below are some of our favorite Midwestern camping destinations.
Starved Rock State Park- Illinois
About an hour and a half outside of Chicago, you’ll find peace and serenity in Starved Rock State Park. From canyons to waterfalls, fishing and hiking, you’ll get a little bit of everything “outdoorsy” here. If you prefer to hike, there are 13 miles of mapped and well-traveled trails. The visitor’s center has plenty of educational and fun activities for kids of all ages including story telling, guided mini-hikes, and crafts. If you plan to take your trip sans kids, then there are a few local wineries and breweries to visit. This state park allows for traditional (dry) camping and also has RV hookup sites. If you’d prefer to ditch the tent or don’t have an RV, you can reserve a night in one of the cabins or lodge.
Black Hills National Park- South Dakota and Wyoming
If you’re looking for forest, you’ve just found 1.25 million acres of it. With 30 campgrounds, 32 picnic areas, and 353 miles of trails, you won’t have time to be bored or disappointed. Do you like presidential faces? If so, be sure to stop by Mount Rushmore and take a look at Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, and Roosevelt. Although surrounded by the Black Forest, Mount Rushmore is actually considered a separate area administered by the National Park Service. If, alternatively, you are interested in caves, Jewel Cave National Monument is also surrounded by Black Hills. Jewel Cave is the third longest cave in the WORLD with nearly 182 mapped passageways. Thankfully, Black Hills has traditional campgrounds, RV sites, and cabin lodging. There are even campgrounds specifically designed for group camping- and those designated for “dispersed camping.”
Roaring River State Park- Missouri
If you’ve ever had an inkling to visit fictitious Tom Sawyer’s home state, then this state park is the place to be. This 4,000 acre park is located in the Ozarks on the southwestern side of the state. One of the most popular state parks, the rivers are stocked with rainbow trout. For obvious reasons, this park is a favorite of fisherman and hunters, but it also has seven hiking trails, a nature center, and a pool for the little ones. In the summer, you can wade in the river or enjoy a bite to eat at the full service restaurant located in the on-site conference center. As for lodging options, this park has rustic cabins for rent, traditional campsites, RV sites, and luxury hotel rooms that are located in the conference center. Be sure to stop at the on-site store for fishing equipment!