The Best Places to Camp in the Midwest

Also known as “America’s Heartland,” the Midwest provides various experiences for the avid camper. Featuring an amazing combination of scenery and amenities, the Midwest’s camping grounds are a favorite for families, lone travelers, and groups. 

If you are searching for the best places to camp in the Midwest, here are some of our top picks.

1. Brown County State Park – Indiana

Brown County State Park is one of the largest camping grounds within Indiana and  features a wide variety of facilities and services. The grounds provide a beautiful landscape that is a favorite for different outdoor activities.

Things to do at Brown County State Park:

  • Hiking 
  • Horseback riding 
  • Bird watching trails 
  • Swimming in an Olympic size pool
  • Fishing on two lakes
  • Sightseeing at the nature center
  • Observing wildlife and plants

The Brown County State Park features camping sites open year round and picnic areas for visitors. Visit the camping grounds and you will surely enjoy everything the park has to offer.

2. Grand Marais Recreation Area in Minnesota

Grand Marais Campground and RV Park is best for budget travelers looking for plenty of amenities.

Each of the 300 campsites features access to

  • Cobblestone beaches
  • Harbor break wall
  • Full hook-ups with electricity/water
  • Full-service clean bathhouses with water at sites May to October 
  • Ballfield
  • Playgrounds
  • Harborside pavilion
  • Recreational hall
  • Community garden
  • Free coffee and Wi-Fi

For water lovers, the camping grounds provide access to Lake Superior. The camping grounds remain open year-round.

3. Hayward KOA in Wisconsin

Do you love themed weekend camping activities? Then Hayward KOA is the place to be next time you are looking for a place to camp in the Midwest. 

Perfect for families and travel groups, the Hayward KOA provides a campground to create lasting memories. Fun activities at the Hayward include:

  • A 300 foot water slide 
  • Swimming in the 9 foot heated pool
  • Biking (rental bikes available on-site)
  • 18-hole mini-golf course
  • Canoeing 
  • Themed crafts  
  • Outdoor cinema
  • Hiking 
  • Access to lakes for fishing
  • RV sites 
  • Saturday night DJ
  • Jumping pillow

Whether you are exploring the best places to camp in the Midwest or you are looking for a place to hang out over the weekend, the Hayward KOA is a park to visit.

4. Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Nebraska

This ultra-modern campground offers year-round accommodations and recreation. Covering approximately 700 acres, the park is located along the scenic Platte River. The Little Creek and Lakeside camping grounds feature a spacious and hard-surfaced pad that is situated among mature shade trees. The camping grounds feature modern shower buildings with drinking water available at each of the sites.

The outdoor activities at the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park include:

  • Bicycling 
  • Bird watching 
  • Boating 
  • Fishing / Crabbing 
  • Field sports 
  • Picnic sites 
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife viewing and so much more

To access the campgrounds, you need a Nebraska State Park Permit. You may purchase the permit prior to your stay or online.

5. Wilderness State Park in Michigan

Bordering Lake Michigan, Wilderness State Park is a public recreation area featuring over 200 campsites. The camping grounds are divided into two units, namely the Lakeshore and the Pines. 

Featuring 18 full hook-up camping sites, nine tent-only campsites, and six rustic cabins with three rustic bunkhouses, Wilderness State Park has plenty of accommodations for visitors. 

The dense coniferous forest to mature hardwood forest can make the park easy to get lost in, so it is advisable that visitors carry a map. There are various things for campers to do, including

  • Biking 
  • Hiking 
  • Kids activities 
  • Cabin/vacation rentals 
  • RV parks
  • Snowmobiling 
  • Fishing 
  • Hunting 
  • Access to Carp Lake

Campsite bookings can be made up to six months prior to arrival.

6. Johnson Shut-Ins State Park Campground  in Missouri

As one of the busiest state parks in Missouri, the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park Campground requires an early booking, especially if you are planning for a summer vacation. The state park accepts year-round reservations with access to special camping areas reserved for non-profit organizations. Note that the special use camping areas are assigned on a first-come-first-served basis.

The campground has hiking trails with unmatched sightseeing opportunities and other fun activities, including:

  • Bicycling 
  • Fishing
  • Swimming 
  • Historic site tour 
  • Horseback riding 
  • Backpacking 
  • ATV Riding 
  • Boating 
  • Kayaking

7. Starved State Campground in Illinois

The state of Illinois offers one of the best places to camp in the Midwest. Open all year round, the Starved State Campground features walk-in camping sites offered on a first-come-first-served basis. Reservations can only be made three days in advance. 

The campground features over 125 premium campsites with all sites equipped for RVs and tents. The management restricts only two vehicles for each campsite, with reserved parking for extra vehicles. 

At Starved State Campground no alcohol is allowed at the campsites and visitors should observe silence from 10 PM. The park remains closed during deer season. 

Starved Rock activities include:

  • Guided tours 
  • Bald eagle watching 
  • Hiking with free guided hikes available on selected Saturdays 
  • Fishing and canoeing 
  • Hunting 
  • Winter activities
  • Picnicking 
  • Boat Tours