Blackwell Forest Preserve

Our campsite at Blackwell Forest Preserve
Our campsite at Blackwell Forest Preserve

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.

$5 worth of firewood
$10 worth of firewood

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
campground to Two Brothers, almost entirely on trail
campground to Two Brothers, almost entirely on trail
  • 2 miles to groceries
campground to grocery store, all trail
campground to grocery store, all trail
  • 5 miles to Fermilab

Getting There

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.

Campsite Scoring

Overall Score: 3.5/5

Ride Quality: 3.5/5

Amenities: 4/5

Cost: 3/5

Hassle: 2.5/5

Proximity to grocery: 4/5

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