Harry L. Swartz Campground

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.

Make a Reservation

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.


  • Two-night minimum on weekends
  • Three-night minimum on holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day)
  • Online reservations must be made at least three days in advance
  • Maximum stay 14 days
  • Check-in: 3:00pm, Check-out: 2:30pm
  • Water available May 1 to October 31
  • Reservations are confirmed when payment is received.
  • Reservations and payments should be made at least one week in advance.

(Ask about extended stay options)

Nightly Camping Rates - All Sites Electric

Holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day)
Friday and Saturday
Group Sites and Double Sites (8-9, 22-23, B-C, 40-41 - Call for reservations, not available online.
Burr Oak, has electricity

Campground Rules

For the safety and enjoyment of all campers...

  • Camp only in designated campsites.
  • Camp only one family to a site (extra tents for kids okay).
  • An adult (18 or older) must be the registered and responsible person for the campsite. This person must be present for the duration of the campsite reservation.
  • Limit cars parked at your site to no more than two.
  • Ask your visitors to park in visitor parking areas.
  • Observe quiet hours from 10 PM to 7 AM.
  • Wash dishes at your site, not near drinking fountains or in the shower building.
  • Build fires in grills provided.
  • Leave plant materials (including dead wood) where they are to protect habitat.
  • Keep your dog(s) on a short leash (less than 6 foot) at all times...and never on the beach or beach picnic areas.
  • Hang lanterns on lantern posts provided in your campsite.
  • Keep volume of radios or sounds systems very low so sound stays in your campsite.

Campground Site Map


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.

International Dark Sky Park

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.

Campground Events

Naturalist Programs

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.  

Memorial Day Parade, Sunday, May 26 at 5-6 p.m.

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]

Our Namesake

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.