According to the National Park Service:
"Artists have created art in national parks since the late 19th century when famed Hudson River School painters captured the majestic views of our nation's western parks. Today, the sights and sounds in national parks continue to inspire artists in more than 50 residency programs across the country."
Deadline for many summer and fall residencies are approaching. Locations not to far from Chicago include the Indiana Dunes (with an April 20 deadline) and Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan (with an April 15 deadline). If you really feel like getting away by staying in a remote wilderness cabin, then try Denali National Preserve in Alaska, which has an open deadline starting May 1.
Wherever you decide to apply, these programs provide artists with unique opportunities to create work in varied natural and cultural settings. There are programs for visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media. Programs vary, but residencies are typically 2 to 4 weeks in length and most include lodging. Often artists are invited to participate in park programs by sharing their art with the public. Each park in this directory has its own application process and timeline, so visit the National Park Service website for further information.