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Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (the forest has a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails). Hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy. Nestled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the stunning Shawnee National Forest landscape features rolling hills, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs. If you’re into climbing than a must-see is Jackson Falls, located near the town of Ozark in the Hidden Springs Ranger District in Shawnee National Forest. The climb takes place on 60 feet of sandstone cliffs and boulders that include numerous freestanding towers.
Tunnel Hill State Trail
Rolling agricultural fields, reclaimed strip mines, ravines, rocky streams and wooded bluffs dominate the northern half of the Tunnel Hill State Trail. With 47.8 miles (one-way) of crushed gravel surface, extended inclines and dark tunnels, this trail is a difficult one, but one not to pass up, as long as you’re up for the challenge. The southern half of the trail explodes with scenery that includes bottomland woods, ponds, streams and marshes. The trail, which winds through seven towns, even touches upon a handful of ghost towns that faded into the landscape after the trains here stopped running.
Giant City State Park
Spectacular woodlands and sheer sandstone walls create a challenge for rock climbing and rappelling, as well as hiking. Outdoor lovers will also find horseback riding, a lookout tower, cabins and a swimming pool. Dine at historic Giant City Lodge, known for its homemade fried chicken dinner. Two different locations in Giant City State Park near Carbondale give you climbing options. A trail behind the picnic shelter takes you to a set of steep bluffs known as Shelter #1 near the Makanda entrance; another climbing area of the park includes the steep sandstone cliffs in Devil's Standtable. Plan to bring all of your own equipment since no permanent anchors are allowed. Ropes are permitted in both areas. After rainstorms, the wet sandstone gets really slippery. Use caution when grabbing for ledges as copperhead snakes warm themselves on the rocks during sunny days.
Scuba dive at this unique spring-fed stone quarry and marvel at underwater treasures such as a submerged airplane (actually used in the movie U.S. Marshals) and a cement petting zoo. Mermet Springs offers on-site instruction and equipment rental.
Egyptian Hills Resort
Egyptian Hills Resort is your passport to the Ultimate outdoor family vacation. Whether you are into waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, sport fishing, or pleasure boating; the Lake of Egypt is a boater’s paradise. All within a stone’s throw of your cabin. Within minutes of your cabin, your family can enjoy guided expeditions such as; horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, geo-caching, wildlife photography and many other outdoor activities. Whether planning a single activity or multiple activities for your group, we at Egyptian Hills are your personal concierge in planning your ultimate outdoor family vacation. Whether onsite or through one of our partner guides, all activities are tailored for all ages and experience levels.
CITY: Creal Springs
Giant City Lodge
The 34 cabins offered at Giant City State Park include 12 one-room cabins and duplex cabins nestled in the bluffs near the lodge, featuring a living room and deck overlooking the woods below. An outdoor swimming pool is on site. Giant City Lodge's full-service restaurant features a popular all-you-can eat chicken dinner. Closed Dec. and Jan. every year.
Pinnon Lake Cabin
Tucked away in the beautiful rolling hills of Southern Illinois, the cabin location rests on the highly acclaimed Southern Illinois Wine Trail. Pinnon Lake is five minutes from the edge of Shawnee National Forrest. We are only three miles off Interstate 57 at exit 36. Moments from anywhere yet feels like miles from it all. On any given day you may observe deer in the field, geese landing on the lake, a family of wild turkeys at the edge of the woods. In the spring you may even take a peek at our new baby calves, as the property is a third generation working family farm.
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail features 12 award-winning wineries located along a 25-mile scenic drive along highway 127 and highway 51 in the Shawnee National Forest. Along the way have a picnic, go on a hike, visit a shop, and stay in a cozy B&B or cabin. Many of the wineries host special events throughout the summer and fall.
Rustle Hill Winery
On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, this winery features an amphitheater bandstand for live music, great wines and beers, restaurant and cabins for rent.
Blue Sky Vineyard
Along the majestic Shawnee Hills Wine Trail you’ll find Blue Sky Vineyard—a stunning Tuscan-inspired winery and vineyard. Stroll through the vineyards, enjoy wine tastings, and relax on the outdoor terrace with the rolling countryside as your tapestry.
Cache River State Natural Area
Renowned for its ancient cypress-tupelo swamp, this natural area has been named one of America's 10 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems by Budget Travel. This sprawling area contains 100 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, and 11 state champion trees that have stood for centuries. Visitors enjoy birding, hunting, wildlife watching, canoeing and hiking. Bikers can access the Cache River via the Tunnel Hill State Trail.
Bruce Goff Castle Bed & Breakfast
The Castle is a premiere architectural delight atop a forested bluff in the area of the Shawnee National Forest. Accommodations for up to three acquainted couples. The Castle has a sunken tub and is a great 'outdoors' experience.
This historic boardwalk dates back to the 1890s. Today it offers galleries featuring quality handcrafts created by local artisans and a country store.
Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour
Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour consists of eight zip lines, the longest stretching more than 1,100 feet, which will zig-zag across the property’s bluffs and through the valley. The tour also includes 11 platforms high in the trees, three aerial suspension bridges, the longest stretching 180 feet, and two short ground hikes. A canopy tour is an exciting way to experience the flora, fauna, geology and history of the outdoors by safely traversing an established route of ziplines and aerial bridges between platforms built in the trees, and they are just plain fun!
Devil's Kitchen Cabins
2 cabins. Premier outdoor lodging deep in the woods of Southern Illinois. Perfect for a romantic getaway, vacation, or just a place to relax in peace and quiet.
Located near the town of Ozark in the Shawnee National Forest, Jackson Falls offers arguably the best rock climbing in southern Illinois. There are roughly 60 climbing areas along the sandstone bluffs and freestanding boulders, each with multiple named routes on them. There are over 500 named routes in all. Most of the routes are 50-60 feet in height. The whole area sits in a very scenic glen. Most of the routes at Jackson Falls are sport routes, though there are a number of traditional routes, and a few areas suitable for setting up a top-rope. There are also many excellent bouldering opportunities here.
Kite Hill Vineyards Bed and Breakfast
Kite Hill's B&B is located on a 30-acre estate with a five-acre vineyard, all surrounding Kite Hill Lake. Start your day with a full three-course breakfast followed by a stroll through the vineyards or around the lake. After a full day of Southern Illinois activities, enjoy a complimentary wine tasting at the winery.
Rustle Hill Cabins
The Vineyard Chalet cabins are nestled across the valley from the winery, overlooking the pond and amphitheater. Some of the amenities include: Cathedral ceilings, Full kitchen, King size bed, Upstairs loft with six windows, 2 fireplaces, Central heat and air, Wrap around deck. The cabin is designed for a single couple...but can sleep 4 to 6.
Flamm Orchards/Fruits & Cream Stand
Take a drive out to the orchards and buy in-season strawberries, peaches and apples. Flamm's Fruits & Cream Stand offers treats like homemade strawberry shortcake, cobblers, apple dumplings and pies.
The Science Center of Southern Illinois
This center was designed for children ages 3-13 and their families. The science museum features several interactive hands-on exhibits dealing with a variety of basic concepts of science, as well as special events and programs.
Southern Illinois Wine Trail
Illinois' newest wine trail connects six wineries dotted throughout the southeast corner of the state. Visitors can enjoy both breathtaking vistas and friendly rural communities, all while sampling excellent red and white wines.
The Lodge at Giant City State Park
Make the scenic trek to Giant City State Park for the all-you-can-eat fried chicken dinner, served in the rustic dining room at Giant City Lodge. The family-style Southern fried chicken comes with made-from-scratch dumplings, mashed potatoes and biscuits with rich country milk gravy.
Cedar Rock Cabins
Fully furnished cabins in the Shawnee National Forest. Wooded paths wind up and down the hills past rock formations. Enjoy the screened in porch at dusk and view area wildlife. Relax in the hot tub under the stars.
Cobden Peach Festival
Celebrate the local peach harvest, sponsored by the Cobden Lions Club. Join us for fresh peaches from local orchards, carnival rides and games, crowning of ‘Miss Peach Queen’, homemade food and peach cobbler & pie with a 5K run/walk and parade on Saturday. Free admission.