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People on a bridge crossing the forests with harnesses and safety helmets at Canopy Tours.

Shawnee National Forest

Vistas of cornfields and soybeans are plentiful in Illinois, but head south to the rolling hills of Shawnee Forest Country and you’ll find scenery that’s quite different.

The Shawnee National Forest covers much of southernmost Illinois between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The area is well suited for an outdoor adventure any time of year. In fact, every season can offer something different.

Two people climbing up big rocks

Outdoor adventures

The forest is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, offering hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, and wonderful bird- and nature-watching opportunities.

Garden of the Gods: a must-see

Garden of the Gods, renowned for its breathtaking views, features two main trails. The Observation Trail is a quarter-mile stone path that showcases famous rock formations and provides a panoramic view of the ancient forest. It's an interpretive trail with fascinating geological history.

The Camel Rock at the Garden of the Gods in Herod

Remarkable Rocks

The Observation Trail offers stunning views of unique rock formations like Camel Rock and Devil’s Smokestack, shaped over 300 million years by nature's elements. These ancient rocks invite visitors to linger and appreciate the landscape's timeless beauty.

Girl taking a stroll at Rim Rock Walk on a nice sunny day.

Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow: A (Slightly) Hidden Gem

Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow Recreational Area, though less known, rivals Garden of the Gods in beauty and history. The trail leads through significant rock formations and past a prehistoric stone wall, offering both a scenic and historic journey.

A group of six women posing with a statue of a sasquatch named Sassy

Meet a Local Legend

Kayak rentals allow for peaceful paddling around Pounds Hollow Lake. Nearby, don't miss the chance to snap a photo with Shawnee Forest Country’s own sasquatch, affectionately known as ‘Sassy’.

A person jumps across a rock with friends, blue sky and water in the background

Down by the River

Cave-In-Rock State Park offers a mix of history and nature, with a cave that has served many roles over the centuries. Nearby, Elizabethtown hosts the E-Town River Restaurant, famous for its catfish. Rosiclare, known for its fluorite deposits, is home to the American Fluorite Museum, showcasing the area's mining heritage.

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