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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.
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.
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 tree house. Each of the units, including the tree house, is equipped with a bathroom, kitchenette, heating and air conditioning. Physical Location: Karbers Ridge, IL 62955 GPS: 37°33’52.18?N 88°20’17.03?W
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.
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.
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.
The Little Grand Canyon trail is located within the Shawnee National Forest. Experience the easy 3.6 miles of beauty it offers as you ride your bike or hike these fun trails that meander past lush wooded canyons, riverside bluffs, songbirds, woodpeckers and deer; while hawks and vultures soar high above the cliffs. Explore towering rock walls, eroded sandstone canyons, craggy bluffs and moist bottom lands, too.
A national symbol of faith, this 111-foot-tall cross, when illuminated at night, can be seen over an area of 7,500 square miles atop the most prominent elevation in Southern Illinois. The cross is surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest.
There are formations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and more. An underground stream flows through the cave bed, and the temperature is a relatively constant 58 degrees.
Naturally a great place to explore, learn and discover some of nature's wonders. Let nature be your guide, come visit and we'll show you why they call it the great outdoors!
The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area consists of 2,700 acres of grass, forest and cropland, and wildlife habitat. The area also includes a portion of the Middle Fork River, a State and National Scenic River, with over 1,000 feet of scenic corridor for canoeing and fishing. The area also allows for hunting, hiking, picnicking, and camping.
Just 8 miles south of Carbondale, Touch of Nature borders the Shawnee Forest. It is a 3,100 acre wooded retreat area perfect for group events. Located in the City of Makanda, IL.
The Wetlands Center provides a one-stop shop for information about the Cache River Wetlands and its recreational and educational opportunities. The center has an extensive natural and cultural history exhibit, wildlife viewing, trails and a video.
135 acres, natural history museum, handicapped-accessible trails, 1880's living history farm and pioneer cooking demos. Cost for some programs.
A short nature trail along the path of the Cairo & St Louis Narrow Gage railroad used before it was abandoned in 1981. Starting from downtown Alto Pass, the walk offers very scenic views.
Consisting of 15 wildlife management areas and 13 public access areas, the Mississippi River State and Wildlife Area manages a majority of its 24,400 acres to accommodate waterfowl hunting and habitat enhancement.
Nature lovers will enjoy 369 unspoiled acres with an unusual 90% concentration of native wildflowers, a paved path and 2.5 miles of trails. The Nature Center features a butterfly garden, gift shop, aquarium and library. The Grove is an area designed with the intent to bring children back to nature using fallen logs, tree stumps for seating, vertical logs for forts, and nature music and art areas.
Visit Illinois’ bayou. Yes, the bayou in Illinois. Cypress Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to incredible cypress-filled swamps and wetlands and is unlike anything you expect to find in the Midwest. The refuge protects 15,000 acres of lush wetlands and some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River.
Offers places to fish and picnic. Canoe access. Biking. A host for "A River Thru History" each September, where you can step back 200 years into Chicago's past with a festive gathering of fur trappers, settlers, craftsmen, and entertains along the banks of the Des Plaines River.
This site's 5,500 acres make up one of the largest and most used hunting and field trailing areas in the state. It also offers camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, two small natural areas and 12 miles of equestrian trails with cross-country jumps.
Old Plank Road is a 21-mile recreation and nature trail used by in-line skaters, walkers, runners, bikers, bicyclists and even cross-country skiers in the winter. This trail reaches from Park Forest all the way to Joliet.
Just 45 minutes northwest of Chicago is a state natural area featuring the state's only quaking bog with an open water center. Volo Bog State Natural Area was created when the melting of glaciers pushed deep into the ground 12,000 years ago.
Nestled in the uplands of the Shawnee National Forest, supports mature oak-hickory woods, river bottom forests, young forests and old field habitats. More than 530 types of plants, including a rich variety of wildflowers and 20 types of ferns. 10 walking paths give access to the area.