Starved Rock Country

Starved Rock Country’s Camp Aramoni featured on cover of Illinois travel guide

Boutique campground fits the bill of providing a unique attraction, in an eco-friendly space

Tim and Jennifer Bias, owners of Camp Aramoni are presented with the cover of the fall winter 2023-2024 Enjoy Illinois magazine on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023 at Camp Aramoni.

As trees and fields get ready to change color for fall, the Illinois Office of Tourism has turned to Camp Aramoni in La Salle County to attract visitors.

Deputy Director Daniel Thomas visited the boutique campground in Lowell on Monday to unveil the state tourism’s “Enjoy Illinois” magazine cover with Camp Aramoni featured.

Along with the cover photo, Camp Aramoni – along with Starved Rock State Park, Starved Rock Lodge and August Hill Winery – is listed as one of eight weekend getaways to “soak up the sunny days and crisp nights of autumn with weekend escapes.”

Thomas said the state’s office of tourism has learned that 90% of visitors are looking for an eco-friendly environment. Camp Aramoni – with its riverside views, hiking trails, native prairie grasses and wildflowers on a restored former brick manufacturing area – provided the creative attraction the agency was seeking.

“A lot of people know Illinois for Chicago,” Thomas said. “We have wonderful other spaces, and we are trying to highlight them across the state.”

Camp Aramoni owner Jennifer Bias said the boutique campground has transformed into exactly what she and her husband Tim have envisioned.

There are 11 tents, made in South Africa, that are designed to maintain a cozy stay despite any type of summer weather. Meals are served at The Barn for guests, and drinks can be found as well served from an Airstream trailer on a covered patio.

The campground’s venue hosts weddings and events, and it opens to the public every Wednesday for dinners and live music. It also opens some Sundays for brunch.

“We are excited,” Bias said. “It’s been a long journey.”

The Biases led a tour Monday around Camp Aramoni’s venue and campground for state and local tourism officials.

Thomas said he is in the middle of a 25-stop listening tour across the state, which included a visit to Heritage Corridor, which serves Bureau, Grundy, La Salle, Livingston, Putnam and Will counties. Because Illinois is so diverse from south to north, and Chicago to its rural areas, he said it’s important to hear the needs of the region.

“From the very beginning, I’ve said I want to speak to local businesses to see what we can help provide,” Thomas said.

Since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heritage Corridor has reported a significant economic impact from an increase in visitors, Thomas said.

Bob Navarro, president and CEO of Heritage Corridor, said he was thrilled to have the state’s tourism office visit the region and to feature Camp Aramoni on the cover of its fall magazine.

Jennifer Bias said it was hard to put into words the excitement, but she’s looking forward to growing Camp Aramoni all while keeping its personality intact.

“We have some plans,” she said. “It will all be done so we don’t lose the feel of what we have.”

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello is the news editor for The Times in Ottawa and NewsTribune in La Salle, part of Shaw Local News Network, covering La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. He covers local and breaking news in the areas of government, education, business and crime and courts, among others.