Menasha Ridge Press The Best in Tent Camping: Illinois

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Price MSRP: $15.95


1 review
5-star:   1
4-star:   0
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

A highly informative book that directs tent (and hammock) campers away from the crowded RV parks to quieter locations. Many reviewed locations are virtually unknown and seldom visited.


  • Focus on non-RV locations
  • Detailed overview of sites reviewed
  • Driving directions and GPS coordinates
  • Real world visits by the author
  • Some of the locations are so little known, you can have the entire site to yourself!


  • Due to page limitations, some Illinois locations left out
  • Focus on car camping, not backcountry locations

I will start with the disclaimer that I am good friends with John Schirle, the author of this book. John introduced me to the sport of caving. In addition, I had the privilege of suggesting one of the sites in the book and proofing the first draft of the review for that site. Having said that, if the book was not a worthwhile purchase, it would be easy for me to simply not post a review.


The Best in Tent Camping-Illinois came about when the author found that three of the five states bordering Illinois had similar Menasha Ridge Press books, but nothing for this state. When the author wrote the publisher to inquire on the future of an Illinois book, their response was to ask him if HE wanted to write one. And so the task began for the author to solicit site locations from those in the outdoor community, to visit each of those locations, and to finally select 50 sites to be included in the book.

Anyone familiar with a hike featured by Backpacker Magazine know that the trail has probably not been done by the magazine’s writing staff and that information is often significantly wrong. I appreciate that all 50 locations reviewed in The Best in Tent Camping-Illinois were visited by the author prior to review. While some of the details were provided to him by third parties (he did not actually hike every available trail), he still camped there and did his homework.

Each review provides information about the site, driving directions, GPS coordinates, and a map of the campground (including recommendations on which sites in the campground are preferred). Each review carries a 5-star rating system in the following categories: Beauty, Privacy, Spaciousness (of site), Quiet, and Security.


Map of Sam Dale Lake Campground

Many of the site reviews in The Best in Tent Camping-Illinois were/are new to me. For example Camp Cadiz in Shawnee National Forest is a beautiful, remote campground that is almost always empty (Trailspace member Pillowthread works in the area and tells me the campground only sees traffic during hunting season.).

Another site, McCully Heritage Project is only 45 minutes from my home and has become my favorite site for morel mushroom hunting. It is almost always empty, and if you stop in during the spring, you’ll find the campground hosts making maple syrup. Without this book, neither location would be known to me. 

In summary, the reviews are well-written. The book provides useful information. The rating system is accurate. The Kindle version is only $10 and well worth adding to your tablet or smart phone. My paper copy is well-worn, dog-eared, and written on through the margins.


Author John Schirle (center) and I (right) in Lost Bovine Cave, Indiana.

Source: received it as a personal gift

Horn Rimmed Hiker BRAND REP

Have owned and read the same book myself - really appreciate this book because of the maps, which (believe it or not) many books on the same subject omit. If you're writing a book on this subject, you HAVE to visit those locations. IDNR can only update every so frequently, and if anyone hasn't noticed, our state parks' maps haven't had a new publication since good 'ol "Blago" was in office (which now is crossed-out with a permanent marker in most cases, and rightfully so). You know if John plans on publishing an updated version anytime soon, Goose?

7 years ago
John Schirle

HornRimmedHiker -- Hey, thanks for the comment! This is John Schirle. I believe the publisher at some point will be doing a 2nd edition, and will give me first dibs on doing it, but it hasn't happened yet. If so, I'll be updating, revisiting, probably adding some new sites.

7 years ago

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