RV Camping Guide to Matthiessen State Park

RV Camping Guide to Matthiessen State Park

24 Jul 2023 Illinois

RV Camping Guide to Matthiessen State Park

Need a weekend getaway? Consider an RV camping trip to Matthiessen State Park in beautiful Illinois. We have your complete RV camping guide of everything you need to know before you go.

Living in the city causes us to experience a lot of congestion and demand. Taking an opportunity to getaway for the weekend allows you to reconnect with nature and recharge your battery. Just 100 miles southwest from Chicago you will find the beautiful Matthiessen State Park. It is located just a few more miles south of the more famous Starved Rock State Park.

From canyons and streams to the prairie and forest surroundings, you can participate in five miles of marked hiking trails, nine miles of mountain biking, and equestrian trails through this natural sanctuary. Matthiessen State Park is a paradise for those interested in both geology and recreation. From its beautiful rock formations to abundant vegetation and wildlife, you can picnic and explore this natural wonderland. Check out this RV camping guide to learn everything you need to know before you visit.


Matthiessen State Park Waterfall 1


Matthiessen State Park Facts

This park is located near Oglesby, in LaSalle County, Illinois. It is named for Frederick William Matthiessen who owned the original 176 acres located at the parks core. Originally containing two mansions, several cottages, a garage, and private fire station, the park was donated to the State of Illinois in 1918 and has since grown to 1,938 acres. Here are some other interesting Matthiessen State Park facts to know before you visit.

• The buildings of the original estate were destroyed in 1981, however the concrete stairs leading into the canyon are still of the original construction.
• The park is centered on a stream that flows from Matthiessen Lake to the Vermilion River. The eroded sandstone layers leave behind interesting rock formations and drops to experience.
• The Upper Dells begin at Matthiessen Lake with the Lake Falls that drop into the canyon below. This continues downstream to a 45-foot-tall Cascade Falls where the Lower Dells begin.
• Much of the coloration seen throughout the canyons is the result of minerals located in the groundwater. This results in many mineral springs being present throughout the park and providing salt lick spots for the large deer population.
• The cool and damp canyons are ideal for various species of mosses, liverworts, and ferns.
• Frogs, toads, and salamanders live on the canyon floors while various bird specifies such as the cliff swallow nest within the eroded canyon walls.
• The sandy soil makes it an ideal habitat for black oak, red cedar, and white oak trees that have formed on top of the bluffs of the canyons.
• As the former name of “Deer Park” suggests, this area is home to a very large population of white tail deer.


Matthiessen State Park Falls

Best Matthiessen State Park RV Parks and Campgrounds

Our handpicked list below gives you some of the best Matthiessen State Park RV park locations to choose for your next visit.


Cozy Corners Campground

Located right across from Matthiessen State Park, this small campground is family owned for RVs and tents that is surrounded by trees. The campground provides picnic tables, showers, firewood, and more.

More Information:
Address: 805 N 25th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348
Phone: (815) 667-4886


Pleasant Creek Campground

Nestled in a wooded setting along a tributary of the Vermillion River, this campground is surrounded by rolling hills and mature trees. Just 5 miles away from Starved Rock State Park and an additional 4 miles from Matthiessen State Park, you can get the best of both worlds. This campground is just minutes from unique shops, historical sites, recreational activities, and more.

More Information:
Address: 926 N 2150th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348
Phone: (815) 431-0936


Starved Rock State Park Campground

Starved Rock’s campground has 129 Class-A Premium campsites equipped with a cement pad for RV or camper and area for tent. A picnic table, fire pit with grill grate on top, and electric hook ups are all available. There are water hydrants nearby and porta potties, separate shower houses with flush toilets, and a dump station for use. This place offers all the conveniences while placing you in close proximity of both State Parks.

More Information:
Address: Utica Township, IL 61372
Phone: (815) 667-4726


Kayak Starved Rock Campground

With breathtaking views from the campground, this place is situated on the north side of the Illinois River facing Starved Rock State Park. With 150 campsites available for tent, travel trailer, and RV, you can rent kayaks at the shoreline or participate in any of the many events available.

More Information:
Address: 1170 N 27th Rd, Ottawa, IL 61350
Phone: (630) 567-4653


Matthiessen State Park Trail


Things to Do in Matthiessen State Park

With 1,938 acres of natural land along the main dell and forest land south of the park, it can be difficult to know where to start your adventure. Many people boost that the Dell Paths are a must see along with their beautiful canyon hikes. Here is a look at the most popular things to do in Matthiessen State Park.



The picturesque background provides the perfect setting for picnics and a time for relaxation. With water fountains and playground equipment to toilet facilities, spend the day in the outdoors with your family. As an added attraction, check out the restored fort that represents what the French built in the Midwest during the 1600s and early 1700s. The main trail to the Cascade Falls originates in this area.



With 5 miles of well-marked hiking trails, you can go for a relaxing walk or vigorous hike. Large trail maps are located at all major trail intersections so visitors can choose a variety of routes. It is advised for all hikers to stay on marked trails as steep cliffs and deep canyons present throughout can pose additional danger. Hikers will enjoy the various plant and animal life present along the trails along with an unparalleled view of geological wonders as they travel through the park.


Horseback Riding/Equestrian Camping/Mountain Bikes:

The park provides nine miles of multi-use horseback riding trails for those who own their own horse or mountain bikes. The trails are color coded to symbolize all users must yield to horse riders. Mountain bikes and horses are prohibited on all other trails throughout Matthiessen State Park and Starved Rock State Park.


Other Activities:

A field archery range with sight-in area and four separate targets is located in the northwestern portion of Matthiessen State Park near Deer Park Country Club.

A radio-controlled model airplane field is located at the Vermilion River Area. Hobbyists and visitors will enjoy flying or watching these crafts maneuver around this open field area.

There are six miles of cross-country ski trails with ski rentals available on weekends from December through March.

There are hunting programs available for Matthiessen, Starved Rock, Sandy Ford, and Mitchell’s Grove. During their hunting season, several nature preserves may be closed.


Matthiessen State Park Waterfall


Tips for Visiting Matthiessen State Park

Before you start on your trip, these final tips on visiting Matthiessen State Park will ensure you have a smooth and relaxing trip.

• There is no camping, rappelling, rock or ice climbing allowed. See the list above for best campgrounds to choose from in the area.
• Hike only on marked trails. Unmarked areas are dangerous having resulted in serious injuries and past deaths in this park. All users must be off of the trails by or before dark.
• It is a state offense to remove any archaeological or Native American material from any Illinois State Park.
• Playgrounds and picnic shelters are first come, first serve and can only take a maximum of 50 people.
• Matthiessen Dells area and Vermillion River Area typically shutdown on weekends May through October when they reach full capacity. Parking lots are full around 10am and will not reopen again until 3pm.


RV Rental for Matthiessen State Park

If you are looking for a fun and easy way to enjoy a quick getaway to this geological wonder, check out our fleet of RV Rentals. Our RV lineup is perfect for any budget and loaded with the necessities and conveniences you look for to make your journey as fun as the destination.

Reserve a Matthiessen State Park RV rental today.