Only an hour and a half from the city, paddling on the Fox River offers a perfect day or weekend getaway. My overnight trip on the Fox River was a surprising delight. The cliffs and towering foliage that line the narrow river create an illusion of otherworldliness — a total oasis from bustling city life. The river’s gentle current makes it perfect for families or groups looking for a leisurely paddle. My friends and I lucked out with clear skies and warm weather, and were able to kick back and float our way down most of the route, soaking up the warm sun and cool waves.
Overall, the river is very shallow, with plenty of areas along the way for picnicking, recreation, or camping. There are dedicated campgrounds with reservable sites, but we opted to camp along the river instead and I can’t recommend it enough. Rather than squeezing between other campers in a typical drive-in campsite, we chose to explore the riversides and picked a gorgeous and secluded spot to set up camp.
There are several convenient spots to pitch a tent, and we ended up with a pretty perfect site that gave us sweeping views of the river and an abundance of beautiful foliage. You need to bring all your camping gear along for the ride, but it’s worth the extra work to experience a night here. The rocky ground makes for a less-than-comfortable sleep though, so pack a mat or inflatable.
This river provides the perfect antidote to city burnout. It’s close enough for an afternoon trip if you’re not wanting to spend the night, but the beautiful riverside camping makes this an ideal overnight option for weekenders. The Fox River also has a rich history, and floating down these waters can leave you in timeless awe. Famous French explorers Rene-Robert Cavelier and Sieur de LaSalle traversed its waters in the 1600s. Prior to that, Native Americans inhabited the area; as you paddle today, you can spot a large hilltop monument which commemorates the Fox Wars.