Blackwell is one of the closest and easiest rides out of regional campgrounds. Located immediately off the Prairie Path between Wheaton and Warrenville, it’s about a 35 mile ride from Logan Square. Perhaps because it is so close, it’s a site I go to every year.
At $30 a night for non DuPage residents, Blackwell is one of the more expensive sites I’ve camped at. Blackwell is very strict about its 2 tent per site policy, but they also state you can have up to 6 people on one site. I almost always end up getting 2 sites for 8 people. Fortunately new this year, you can now book online! When making reservations, it’s important to know that one person cannot book multiple sites. You will need an adult 21+ with separate addresses on each site. Kind of a pain, honestly.
Despite the booking headaches, the rest of Blackwell is pretty nice. You get an insane amount of firewood for $5, and they bother to cover it so it’s usually in a pretty good condition to burn. Blackwell also has flush toilets and showers for those of you who like hygiene. The sites themselves are a little on the smaller side, but most are surrounded by trees and give a reasonable sense of privacy. You’ll want to make sure that you ask for a tent site specifically as they have a wood chip pad for tents; other sites are RV oriented and are gravel (ouch). You will also want to be cautious around the edges of the sites, as there is a major poison ivy problem throughout the forest preserve.
Arguably one of the best features of Blackwell is its proximity to other things.
From the campground it’s:
- 3 miles to Two Brother’s Tap Room
- 2 miles to groceries
- 5 miles to Fermilab
Blackwell is approximately a 35 mile ride from Logan Square via the Illinois Prairie Path. While the IPP is a garbage trail, it is still a trail and 2/3s of the ride is on it. This ride is really low stress. There are approximately 3 hills, and all of them are overpasses. The trail is a little busy, but there aren’t really bottlenecks. There are also ample locations to stop and take a bathroom/snack/water break, including a Dairy Queen 2 blocks off the path in Lombard. Even with fully loaded gear and a multitude of stops, I almost always make it to the campgrounds within 3 hours. Here is a link to the route I usually take. One of the most unclear parts of the trip is at the Wheaton Metra where the trail splits into the Aurora and Elgin branches; you’ll want to take the branch on your left, the one that doesn’t go up a hill.
Overall Score: 3.5/5
Ride Quality: 3.5/5
Proximity to grocery: 4/5