Mary Illium Camping

I just bought my camping pass, and all they had left were Illium. How is the camping here? This will be my first TBF. Do people sell passes to closer campsites? Really looking forward to it. Driving in from San Antonio, TX.


Brian, my wife and I too are having our first festival and will be camping there. If you search the threads, there have been a lot of discussions regarding Illium. From what I’ve read the only downfall is the distance to the festival site (about 7 miles). However, from what I’ve read, there is tons of shade, versus the open baseball field camping which is closer, plus I believe there is river near our campsite. Additionally, you should get nothing but friendly people on this board, so ask away if you don’t find an answer to any questions. See ya there.


Last year was our first year and we stayed at Illium too. Loved it, the fires at night are nice, the people were great, the place is well organized, the shuttles are usually on schedule, it’s pretty laid back, and I’ll say it again, good people.

We got there fairly early (Sunday?) and there were alot of spots to choose from, we wound up in an open area. In the afternoons (if we were there) the sun became pretty oppresive, in the mornings we couldn’t get enough of it because it was so cold. Turns out we had neighbors that became friends that we never would have traded for shade anyway. If I remember right (my memory can be chancey :cheers), it started to fill up pretty well on Tuesday and by Thursday we were moving stuff around to make room for others. Even so my sense is that Illium has more elbow room than the other camping areas.

As you drive in most of the trees/shade is on the left (as is the river), open areas on the right (with some nice shady cover off the road) with almost all of it open in the far back. The sun comes up on the right side of the road (opposite the river) and we worshiped it every morning, so the left (river) side gets the first sun. PB has the road watered down everyday which is great but it can still get dusty. PB brings in fresh drinking water in bulk that you can fill your own bottles with (get your washing water from the river), and ice (for sale) everyday.

Hope that helps. You’ll love it :thumbsup

If you can’t be in Town Park, Illium is the next best bet. Lawson is just a baseball field, so it gets hot and you can’t have campfires. Illium is a forest service campground (I believe so anyway) and even though it does get crowded, you get some elbow room and are allowed to have campfires. I’ve camped there for 3 years and had a great time every year!

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

I work each year as a voluteer at Mary Illium and camp there myself. Honestly I think its the best place to camp. Lawson Hill is a ball park with no trees for shade, and no fires, also if it rains…well the ball park can be somewhat a small lake, lol.
You’ll be happy with Mary Illium for sure and of course if you have any issues there will be a great staff to help you out anyway possible.
Looking forward to seeing/meeting you all there this June and above all enjoy the whole event

we’ll be first-timers there too. we’re aiming for a Wednesday afternoon arrival. It appears there are no showers at Illium. Where does one go for a shower if so inclined?

The High School.
I think it’s $3.00 for unlimited time. :flower

It’s supposed to rain isn’t it? :wink:

A few other questions from Missouri Newbies, long time campers, virgin TBFestivarians -
How many fire rings does Mary E. have?
Are there tables at any of the sites?
Is it bikeable to the festival?

Illium is great, It’s where I stayed with two of my brothers, nice people, great scenery, and your in the woods which is way cooler (excuse the bad pun) then the field. It has a good number of fire rings and if their isn’t one near your tent, go find someone to sit with, nobody minds, make some friends. If you wanted I think you could bike, buses come to pick you up if you would rather not (it can get pretty toasty and I wouldn’t be to thrilled to bike in that heat). If you try you should be able to buy a pass to a closer camp, some people have extras.

i heard horror stories about hour-long bus wait lines to get a bus to the show. had a friend who had to pay $20 to some random people driving by to get there on time for a show they wanted to see.

is the really long wait time for a bus a normal thing, or is that something that just happened this year?

The long bus wait happens before big morning acts generally. The line was huge about an hour before Emmitt-Nershi last year, but not so long on other days. If you are staying at Illium, just plan on being early to all the sets you want to see. Also, don’t plan on going back and forth to your camp site multiple times per day. Once I get to town, I stay there.

I never missed a set I wanted to see, but I always got up really early to get to the festival grounds before the first set started.

Yeah, you got up early every day didn’t you? Wish we had been quicker for a couple of sets.

It took me a while to get moving, but I made it. It was also my first year so I didn’t really want to miss anything.

Does the shuttle run 24/7, and how many are there?
Thanks in advance!

I think I’ve stayed at all the campgrounds over the years, except the “quiet family” one, so let me make a suggestion or two.

First, you’re going to want to bring LOTS of stuff on the bus if you plan on staying all day/all night. That means lots of clothing options. Seems like during the heat of the day, you can’t take off enough clothing, but when the sun goes down, you can’t put enough on. That’s especially true if you don’t slather up with sun screen! So plan on bringing your winter attire with you, UNLESS you decide to take a break and ride the bus back to your outer campground. I tried that a few times until I realized that a trip back ti Illium meant missing one entire act. The music is so good that it’s hard to leave.

My biggest busing suggestion is to go lightly on the chairs. Those school buses have really small seats and when you add in a folding chair for every rider, it gets really tough. Use a blanket instead. Not only will it take up less room, but you can use it to stay warm waiting for the illusive un-filled bus at the end of the night.

Another bus suggestion is to not wait for the bus home by Town Park. Walk up the street to Elk’s Park and grab it before it gets to TP, where there is always a line.

Having a friend in Town Park or Warner Field will also help. They can take your stuff at night so it’s there for you the next day. That will make your bus travel much easier, and lets you go to Nightgrass shows without worrying about stashing all your stuff in a corner. Don’t have a friend there? Make one! (A beer does wonders!)

But the best suggestion is to do whatever you can to get a TP or WF ticket. It’s really difficult - you have to be the first one to grab an available ticket from the forum - but it can be done. Times to be alert for extras are Feb 7th (when the refunded tix go on line), the day of the Nightgrass sale (trades will be available), and especially right before the fest.

I hope that helps!

Yo John
Easy on the Town Park thing
It Really sucks in Town Park Folks!!!

Oh yeah. I forgot to say that Town Park is nasty cold and unbearably hot and full of weird smells and even stranger people. At least 10 times last year, I’d be asleep in my tent and be woken up with a horrible whisper: “I know what you did last Solstice!” And I think that they might have moved Town Park this year, out to Ouray or beyond, and there’s NO bus service. And the showers got moved to Durango.

(R - do ya think that worked?)

Genius! That would make a great Telluride t-shirt… :cheers