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Garden of the Gods
Explore the dramatic rock formations, cliffs and trails of the most visited site in the Shawnee National Forest. Millions of years in the making, the Garden of the Gods provides spectacular views unlike anywhere in the Midwest. See Camel Rock, Anvil Rock, Devil's Smoke Stack and other magnificent rock formations in this hiker’s and photographer’s wonderland.
CITY: Karbers Ridge
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.
Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins
Nestled in the beautiful hills of the Shawnee National Forest, Timber Ridge offers something for everyone, from families and honeymooners to outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy some Southern hospitality while staying in a real log cabin or one-of-a-kind treehouse. Each of the units, including the treehouse, is equipped with a bathroom, kitchenette, heating and air conditioning.
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.
Rustic Hideaway Cabins
Private log cabins in a wooded setting. Hot tub on covered back deck. Full kitchen including dishes. TV/VCR. Linens and paper products supplied. Fireplace. Loft.
The largest man-made lake in Illinois (26,000 acres), is a premier location for outdoor sports. Known to sailors, it is one of the best and most challenging for sailboats. There is also boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, sand beaches, and camping areas. Hotels, cabins and golf courses make the area a true outdoor lover's playground.
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
Pomona Natural Bridge
This natural geologic sandstone formation spans 90 feet across a ravine in a mature beech, oak and hickory forest. Nearby is an easy hiking trail dotted with picnic sites.
Cave-in-Rock State Park
Wander along the Ohio River and step into the large cavern, steeped in history of river pirates. Enjoy the spectacular river views from the lodge perched atop the overhanging bluffs. Cabins, picnic areas, camping and showers available.
CITY: Cave In Rock
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.
Big Creek Cabins
Big Creek Cabins is the perfect place for a romantic weekend or quick getaway from the busy rush of daily life. The moment you check-in to our fully furnished luxury log cabin, you can’t help but to slow down and relax. Unwind and get chin deep in the hot tub on the large cover decks overlooking a private pond all situated on 20 very secluded acres. Perhaps enjoy a game a pool on the executive pool table by the fireplace with family or good friends. There are many reasons why Big Creek Cabins is quickly becoming the most popular cabin retreat in Southern Illinois, but we want to personally invite you to a place where memories are made and experience them first hand.
Visit Superman Square in Metropolis to have your picture taken with the 15-foot-tall statue of the Man of Steel. A statue of Lois Lane is located nearby. Across the street is the Super Museum, showcasing rare Superman memorabilia and selling superhero souvenirs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rim Rock's Dogwood Cabins
A nature lover's dream, Rim Rock offers cabins with all the amenities in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, adjacent to the popular Rim Rock Recreational Trail and Garden of the Gods. Rim Rock's is within short driving distance of all Southern Illinois has to offer, and features its own private hiking trail on its 77-acre site.
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.
Trail of Tears Lodge
A remote lodge surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. An abundance of outdoor recreation: horseback riding, hiking, hunting, fishing, shooting range, archery range, dirt bike & ATV trails. Outdoor pool, game room, hot tub and pets accepted.
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!
Little Grand Canyon
A 3.6 mile loop trail constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Offers spectacular views of the Big Muddy River, Turkey Bayou, and the Missouri bluffs across the Mississippi River.