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.

Nightly Camping Rates

All sites are electric.

Campsite Time of Year Price
Holiday Campsite (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day)

$35.00

Friday-Saturday Campsite $28.00
Sunday-Thursday Campsite $20.00
Group Sites and Double Sites (8-9, 22-23, B-C, 40-41, Call for reservations, not available 0online) Burr Oak has electricity $80.00

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.

Make a Reservation

Campground Host, May-Oct:

(217) 595-5692
Office hours: 8 AM to 8 PM

Site Superintendent, April:

(217) 595-5432
Hours: 8 AM to 8 PM

Reserve Online

Policies

Check in: 3:00 PM


Check out: 2:30 PM


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


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

Directions

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.

Campground Events

2024 Dark Sky Events

Saturday, June 8  

DARK SKY SERIES: STARWATCH 

Activity Center, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, 8 p.m.- 11 p.m. 

Join the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society for an evening with the stars at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, a designated International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. We’ll meet at the Activity Center for a presentation, then proceed outside where volunteers will have telescopes set up to view the stars, planets, and more! Weather-permitting, the program will go until midnight, but you may leave when you wish. You may wish to bring insect repellent and something to drink, as well as a lawn chair or picnic blanket for star gazing after the presentation. FREE. All Ages. Children must be accompanied by adults. No cloud date. Call (217) 351-2567 for weather updates. For more info: (217) 896-2455 or [email protected]. 

 

DARK SKY SERIES: THE LIVES AND DEATHS OF STARS 

Friday, August 2 

Activity Center, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, 8 p.m.- 11 p.m. 

The stars, seemingly eternal in their twinkling presence in the night sky, appear to be our calm and constant companions. However, their existence is far from tranquil--stars are born, live, and die in a cycle of chaos and cataclysm. In this presentation, Dr. Gautham Narayan from the Department of Astronomy at UIUC will discuss the life cycle of a star and the ways in which this cycle shapes everything we see in our universe. Following the presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to peer through telescopes at various nebulae, galaxies, and planets. FREE. All ages. For more info: (217)896-2455 or [email protected]. 

 

Saturday, August 31 

DARK SKY SERIES: STARWATCH 

Activity Center, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, 7 p.m.- 11 p.m. 

Join the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society for an evening with the stars at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, a designated International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. We’ll meet at the Activity Center for a presentation, then proceed outside where volunteers will have telescopes set up to view the stars, planets, and more! Weather-permitting, the program will go until midnight, but you may leave when you wish. You may wish to bring insect repellent and something to drink, as well as a lawn chair or picnic blanket for star gazing after the presentation. FREE. All Ages. Children must be accompanied by adults. No cloud date. Call (217) 351-2567 for weather updates. For more info: (217) 896-2455 or [email protected]. 

In the event of inclement weather/overcast skies, cancellation notices will be posted at least two hours before the program on the William M. Staerkel Planetarium’s (217) 351-2567 phone line and on CCFPD & Homer Lake Interpretive Center Facebook pages. 

 

2024 Summer Concerts

Sunday, June 30 

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES: HOT IRON STRING BAND  

Harry L. Swartz Campground, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, 5-7 p.m.  

Hot Iron String Band is back, performing original songs and classic favorites in their lively modern bluegrass style. Drawing inspiration from Bill Monroe’s driving tempo and Django Reindhart’s free-spirited jazz, this band’s unique sound is sure to please your soul. Enjoy this band in the county’s largest forest preserve and first International Dark Sky Park in Illinois! FREE. For more info: (217) 586-2612 or [email protected]. 

 

Saturday, August 17 

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES: AFRO D & GLOBAL SOUNDWAVES 

Harry L. Swartz Campground, Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, 5-7 p.m. 

Join us as we welcome back Afro D & Global Soundwaves! This local group is a 6-piece socially-conscious hip hop/jazz/funk band based in Champaign, Illinois. The band makes soulful music designed to be heard by people of all ages, bridging the gaps between generations by providing music that appeals to old and young alike. The band’s positive messages are designed to inspire people and build community, both locally and globally. Enjoy one of many great bands Champaign County has to offer in a beautiful setting! FREE. For more info: (217) 586-2612 or [email protected]. 

Pop Up Programs

Throughout the summer our educators may add a pop up program for visitors. Check back  periodically to see what's happening.

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.

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.