During the 2022 camping season, there will be no access to Willow Pond for swimming or fishing. The pond is being renovated to improve water quality and will be closed during this time. There are alternative fishing options at Cypress and Emerald Ponds near the entrance to the Preserve. We thank you for your patience while we work to improve the Preserve.
Whether you choose to play hard or just relax surrounded by nature, you can create memories at Middle Fork Campground. Fish, hike, swim, watch wildlife, listen to nature, or sit around the campfire getting reacquainted with family and friends. Each campsite is a quiet retreat shaded by large oaks, hickory and hackberry trees, and wildflowers grow in abundance.
All sites are close to the beach and other amenities. Ice, firewood and other necessities can be purchased from the Campground Host. Campground is open from April 1 to the last weekend in October.
***ONLINE reservations are now being taken for the campground.
To ensure the safety of our visitors and staff, the following rules and regulations are in place until further notice:
To reserve online, click here.
Campground Host, May-Oct: (217) 595-5692
Office hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Site Superintendent, April: (217) 595-5432
Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
(Ask about extended stay options)
For the safety and enjoyment of all campers...
Middle Fork River Forest Preserve is in the northeastern corner of Champaign County. It is 12 miles east of Rantoul on U.S. Route 136 and five miles north of Penfield and Route 136 on County Road 2700E.
Middle Fork River Forest Preserve hosts the darkest sky in Champaign County and now has made protecting its dark sky a priority so that people can enjoy the thousands and thousands of stars in the sky. On November 19, 2018, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve became the first International Dark Sky Park in Illinois. The goal of a Dark Sky Park is to preserve the skies and educate the public about light pollution and how they can make a difference.
On most weekends during the summer the campground naturalist offers a variety of programs and activities. Free! All ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Sit and watch this home-grown parade go by or come along for a trip around the campground. Want to participate? Get ready for the parade by stopping by to decorate your bike (or wagon) and your face at 4 p.m. Meet in the grassy area near Willow Pond beach. May be cancelled if inclement weather. Free. All ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information on campground events: [email protected]
The campground was named in honor of one of the past presidents of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. Harry L. Swartz was instrumental in focusing the District's efforts toward the preservation of natural resources around the Middle Fork River in Champaign County.
All lands, waters, plants and animals at the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve are protected by law under the stewardship of the Forest Preserve District. We welcome you to enjoy your stay with us and ask for your help in preserving and protecting these valuable resources for generations to come.