Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path.   Shawnee Forest Country has some awesome spots to camp!

Camping is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and push yourself out of your comfort zone. There are several options in Shawnee Forest Country for large and small RVs, yurts, camping cabins, car camping as well as tent and backpacking. There are state parks, Shawnee National forest sites and privately owned campgrounds near hiking & biking trails across Southernmost Illinois for groups of all sizes and ages. Giant City, Ferne Clyffe, Dixon Springs, Cave In Rock, and Fort Massac are popular state park options. The Shawnee National Forest also offers locations that take your breath away. Shawnee Campground is an easy access, centrally located, full hook up campground with pull through sites located in Vienna and is family owned.

 Metropolis, located on the Ohio river, offers a favorite campground in Southern Illinois at Fort Massac State Park.  Situated in the middle of the park, this picturesque setting provides a serene relaxation station with plenty of adventures to find.  The campground has 50 A vehicular campsites, complete with electricity, a disposal station and a brand new 8 unit shower house.  The campground also has all new asphalt paved roads and 25 new camping pads.  The improvements don’t stop there.  The drainage system has also been improved as well as new lighting at the dump station.  Coming soon, visitors will be able to rent one of 5 newly constructed cabins that sleep 6 in each.  Reservations for camping can be made at  Once you are at your site you can enjoy all the things Fort Massac State Park has to offer including picnic areas, hiking and biking trails, a fully stocked trout pond, and an 18 basket disc golf course that allows you to see the entire park while you play.  

Giant City – Makanda

With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park and the Makanda area offers loads of fun. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. You will love the many hiking trails.  Especially popular is the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the “Giant City Streets” – huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago. 

GIANT CITY VISITOR CENTER:  Learn about the ‘Giant Streets’ that gave the park it’s name and get maps and trail details. 8 – 3:30 daily.  Giant City State Park Visitor’s Center contains an exhibit hall with displays of the natural, cultural, and geological features of the park. Don’t miss the 10 minute film about the park in the audio/visual room. There is a Discovery Corner that kids love to explore. Ask about the scavenger hunt for kids. Get a prize upon returning it at the end of the hike all filled out, but watch your time, the center closes at 3:30 PM.

Hiking:   Exploration of the picturesque natural wonders of Giant City State Park’s 8 trails,  can be enjoyed along the Post Oak, Devil’s Standtable, Giant City, Stonefort, Indian Creek, Trillium and Arrowwood trails. The Post Oak Trail has been designed for disabled visitors. The 12-mile Red Cedar Hiking Trail provides an invigorating challenge to the truly dedicated backpacker, and offers an overnight campsite at the halfway point. In Spring, Summer & fall, be sure to use insect and tick repellent.  Trillium Trail is a great place to see spring flowers.

Hiking is available year-round, and if you have visited in another season winter can offer a very different experience.  The weather is generally mild, and you can pretty much have the trails all to yourself.  Enjoy a peacefulness that only winter can provide.

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