[REVIEW] Shabbona Lake State Park Camping | Great Family Camping in Northern Illinois

shabbona lake review

Nestled within DeKalb County, Shabbona Lake offers some of the best camping within ninety minutes of Chicago. Midwest Camping hit Shabbona Lake camping, just before the turn to winter, in October 2020. We gathered some friends to fill three campsites for three days to really check out what Shabbona Lake’s campsites, facilities, and nearby activities for ourselves.

Shabbona Lake Camping Tips:

  • Take a look at the campsite map to find sites with amazing lake views
  • Note that the sites may be a little small for two medium or large tents
  • Head to the shower building when you need a bathroom


shabbona lake camping map

Shabbona Lake had three camping loops to choose from, we opted for the Canvasback Cove loop since it is closest to both the Lake and the camp store – The only real downside of the is that its a little further than the Merganser circle from the best bathrooms. The campsite itself is fairly typical for the state parks with a metal campfire circle, picnic table, and gravel parking for two. While the site are supposed to be large enough for two tents, we had a challenging time finding enough flat ground for just our REI Grand Hut Four. You may want to consider getting two sites if you’re worried about space for two tents.

Shabbona Lake Camping Activities

Walking the loop trail is a great way to spend a few hours around the state park, enjoying the great outdoors and admiring the different areas around the lake. It was a little cold for us but if you’re there in the summer, check out the boat rentals to relax or to fish – we saw a lot of successful fishermen around the lake during our time there.

We also drove about fifteen minutes away to Jonamac Orchard to spend a day doing fall activities like apple picking, navigating a corn maze, and enjoying hot cider. They also had a cider house where you can try a whole flight of different hard ciders! We walked out with a dozen donuts, half peck of apples, and more cider than I’d like to admit!


Back at camp, there are outhouses and a larger shower building with more developed facilities (and of course, the showers). It is definitely worth the walk to go all the way to the better spot if you’re interested in running water. The shower house was clean but not very well heated so keep that in mind for winter months!

hiking in shabbona lake state park
Shabbona Lake Hiking Trail

Camp Store

The camp store is well stocked and has plenty of firewood. We went in October, right as the weather started to turn but there was plenty of firewood to keep us warm. The woodpile is also accessible outside of store hours in case you run out after they close (just be sure to leave the right amount and fill out the envelope!).

Verdict: Shabbona Lake Review

Shabbona Lake camping is a delightful way to spend a weekend – take a look at their website for more information. We will certainly be back there again in the future! If you’re going to have more than one tent in the group, take care to ensure you’ll have enough space given the terrain.

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3 Great Winter Weekends – Cabin Camping Near Chicago


As the days get shorter, there’s nothing better than enjoying the crisp winter air in your own private cabin, camping near chicago. When the lakes and rivers freeze over, new activities spring up that aren’t possible during the summer to make for a memorable trip! Try snowshoeing near Joliet or cross country skiing over miles of old canal trails or you can curl up with a book near your fire and enjoy a weekend of seclusion.

We’ve found the best cabin camping nearby so take a look and plan your next trip today!

1. Lasalle / Peru KOA

Cabins Near Starved Rock

cabin camping near chicago
KOA Cabin

While these cabins are a little further than the ones offered by the forest preserve, Lasalle Peru KOA cabins offer you the ability to hang all day at Starved Rock and then head back to a heated cabin and take a nice long shower. The extra hour drive is worth it to get to what we think is your best bet for cabin camping near chicago.

In the winter months, Starved Rock attracts hoards of Bald Eagles you can watch feast on fish. The dam breaks up the river ice allowing the birds to get to the fish beneath. For more winter fun, spend time ice climbing if you have your own equipment or rent cross country skis at the nearby Mattheison state park!

2. Camp Danbeard

Best Cabin Camping Near Chicago

camp dan beard small cabin nov16
Camp Danbeard Cabin

Only a half hour away from the city, the cook county forest preserve’s Camp Dan Beard offers heated cabins for you to defrost during your escape. This six cabin campground has five cabins that can sleep up to eight people and one larger cabin with room for ten. The larger cabin also features a private bathroom, heat, and air-conditioning – perfect for the cold dry winter.

3. Camp Reinberg

Cabin Camping for Groups

Camp Reinberg has cabins for groups of all sizes, even space for up to three dozen people making it the perfect place for a couple families or few people looking to maintain social distancing! For a more regular sized trip, Reinberg has additional cabins more suited for 8 or 12 people.


While cabin camping is a bit more sparse than your options for spring, summer, and fall – it offers a completely different experience that everyone should have. There’s nothing better than the silence of a fresh snowfall along with your coffee just outside your warm cabin door. Reach out if you have any other cabins in the area you think we should recommend!

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