7 Best Places for Camping in Will County

When it comes to camping in Will County, there are plenty of options for family campers, primitive campers, or first-time campers! The local forest preserve offers rental packages so you don’t have to drop a lot on a permanent set of camping gear if you’re just giving it a try or planning to camp once or twice a year! For more amenities, check out the private campground, just 45 minutes away from Joliet.

7 – 3 Forest Preserve Camping

Best Local Primitive Camping in WIll County

The forest preserve district of Will County runs five campgrounds across the county and a rental program in case you’re just getting started or trying to drag some friends out to experience the outdoors for a change! We recommend taking a look at the gear packages for a lot of equipment for a good price, especially for first-time family campers!


7. Messenger Woods Nature Preserve

With four primitive family campsites, the Messenger Woods nature preserve has the best camping in Homer Glen. With wide habitat diversity, you can explore the forest, wetland, prairie, and savanna all from your campsite! Messenger woods is great for birdwatching in Will county, find all 60 bird species that live across the preserve! The only thing you can’t do is bring your pets in order to protect wildlife.

In the winter, Messenger Woods has almost two miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails to keep you moving and warm!

Messenger Woods

6. McKinley Woods

Nestled within Frederick’s Grover, McKinley Woods offers primitive campsites (two ADA accessible) for rent. With over five hundred acres of forest, McKinley woods will show you forests, prairies, wetlands, and the magnificent Des Plaines river throughout a network of short trails under three miles each and access to the mighty I&M Canal State Trail you can take for over 60 miles!

McKinleyWoods Alltrails
McKinley Woods (AllTrails)

Find out more information!

5. Hammel Woods

Hammel Woods

This forest preserve offers primitive camping twenty minutes away from Joliet, perfect for a quick weekend trip! With spacious campsites that offer good privacy, fill your days fishing along the DuPage River, kayaking the Illinois water trails, or hunting for geocaches throughout the namesake woods. If you’re quiet, you might even catch a glimpse of the native long-tailed and least weasels!

For more information – check out their website here!

4. Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve

Winter in Goodenow Grove

With nine large campsites (two ADA accessible campsites), the Goodenow Grove Preserve campsites are just off a circle parking, making them more like primitive campgrounds so be ready for a short walk!

If you’re camping in the winter, the nature center offers snowshoe rentals that you can use across over three miles of trails throughout the Plum Creek Greenway. A short walk away is a 40-foot high sledding hill with tubes available for rental in the same place as the snowshoes! The last place that makes this great for winter camping is the ice-skating pond that the forest preserve opens when conditions allow.

3. Forked Creek Preserve

If you take the Ballou Road Access about a mile in, you’ll find two primitive campsites, including one ADA accessible primitive campsite that is perfect for a family or group to spend the weekend in. Offering privacy, a dog park, and easy access to the Wauponsee Glacial Trail, there is plenty here to keep you busy for days.


Take a look at the next available dates at this link!

2. Channahon State Park

State Park Camping near Joliet


The only state park that allows camping in Will County, Channahon is a primitive campground near Joliet. Just a twenty-minute drive, Channahon camping only requires a permit from the information center, making it an easy trip for spontaneous campers! During your trip, you can paddle the fifteen miles of canals – spotting animals along the banks. If you’d rather stick to land, the park accesses over 60 miles of bike and hike trails along the old I&M Canals.

1. Emerald Trail Campground

Best Private Camping in Will County

Emerald Trail

A large campground in Crete, Illinois, just a few short miles away from the border of Indiana, Emerald Trails has 140 campsites available in Will County, including thirty tent-only sites. Just forty-five minutes away, this is some of the best private camping near Joliet. Emerald Trails offers full shower and laundry facilities, easy access to almost thirty golf courses, and plenty of trails for hiking and biking the entire weekend!

When booking your campsite, ask for one near the water. They have a few campgrounds that overlook a small pond that can add privacy and make your trip memorable.

Reach out to Emerald Trails at (708) 672 – 8700 or visit their website for more information!

Haven’t Found Your Perfect Campsite?

More state parks, private campgrounds, and primitive campsites are waiting! Check out 14 more of our favorite campgrounds north of I-80.

Northern Illinois Campgrounds

Additional Camping Near Joliet

For car camping and more glamorous private rentals, you don’t need to stick with camping in Will County – check out other campgrounds in nearby DuPage, Cook, and Kankakee Counties, or explore the rest of the state!

About the Author

Photo of author


Robbie is a Co-Founder and editor at Midwest Camping. Robbie has backpacked over three hundred miles of the Appalachian trail, visited seventeen national parks, and camped regularly for the last two decades.

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