With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to the Shawnee National Forest offers a variety of trails and attractions.

Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow Recreational area are two must see locations on the eastern side of the Shawnee National Forest.  Both are located just off Karbers Ridge blacktop 30 minutes from Harrisburg.  Garden of the Gods consists of spectacular overlooks and views of unusual rock formations. One formation, known as Camel Rock, is featured in the America the Beautiful Quarter Program representing Illinois and came out in 2016.  The “Observation Trail” is a .25 mile stone path featuring some of the most well known formations.  At the intersection of Garden of the Gods and Karbers Ridge roads, is a popular ‘selfie spot’ with Sassy the Sasquatch, a7-foot-tall statue weighing in at 2,600 pounds that has become a landmark in the sprawling forest near Herod.  Also located on that corner is the Garden of the Gods Outpost, where you’ll find souvenirs (to include items containing the likeness of “Sassy” – Shawnee Forest Country’s own Sasquatch), snacks, soft drinks, and some of the best ice cream around.

Giant City State Park and the Makanda area offers camping, horseback riding, fishing and rappelling.   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.  At Giant City Stables  saddle up for trail rides with experienced wranglers through private trails.  Hand led pony rides are available for children.

Enjoy the breeze zipping through the trees, at Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour where safety is always number one, so don’t be afraid. This is the place to check zip lining off your bucket list!  You will start off with ‘flight school’ before you ever get out in the canopy.  Allow 3 hours for an exciting canopy tour. The guides will educate you about 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.

  Schedule a visit to Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch and get to know the alpacas that call Rolling Oak home. While you are there you can shop locally produced products that include alpaca fiber.

If you are looking for a super fun adventure look no further than the Super Museum in Metropolis, IL.  Not only is Metropolis, IL the Official “Home of Superman” it is also home to one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of Superman memorabilia at the Super Museum.  The world famous Super Museum officially opened on Superman Square in 1993 in the Man of Steel’s official hometown of Metropolis, Illinois.  The museum features over 70,000+ items from the life’s work of longtime Superman enthusiast and collector, Jim Hambrick who has amassed one of the greatest collections of Superman memorabilia in the world.  The Super Museum has received many honors as well including being awarded “#1 Small Town Attraction In America”.   If you have the opportunity to travel to Metropolis, Illinois, we invite you to stop by the Super Museum for some SUPER FUN FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY!!  The museum is open daily 8AM to 7PM.  Price of admission is $8.00 for visitors 6 and up.  Children 5 and younger are free with a paying adult. After you explore the Super Museum be sure to stop at the Superman Statue for a #superselfie!  Only in Metropolis, can you get your picture with a 15 foot bronze statue of the “Man of Steel.” The Metropolis Chamber of Commerce took advantage of the slower visitation due to covid-19 and had the statue fully refurbished in the fall of last year.  Superman is now picture ready with his vibrant new paint job in the traditional colors of red, blue and yellow. You can continue your Super  Adventure by walking a few blocks from Superman to the corner of 8th & Market Street to get another #superselfie with Superman’s leading lady, Lois Lane.  This is no ordinary statue of Lois Lane.  This statue is Noel Neill as Lois Lane.  Neill portrayed Lois Lane in the original Adventures of Superman. Neill was an avid supporter of the annual Superman Celebration and the City of Metropolis, earning her the distinct title of “First Lady of Metropolis.”  She is forever memorialized with her likeness beside the bronze Metropolis Planet Globe statue. Between the Super Museum, Superman Statue and Noel Neill as Lois Lane Statue you will find many shops and eateries along Market Street.  This is a great place to find one of a kind “Home of Superman” merchandise that can only be sold in Metropolis, IL.  Be sure to grab a sweet treat from Sissy’s Sweet Shoppe or plan your stop around a meal at El Toro Loco.  Market Street is also home to several boutiques that carry men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as home decor and novelty items.

Castle Park in Carbondale is a wonderful place for kids to adventure while in Southern Illinois. It was designed for children with the centerpiece of the park being a wood and stone castle. The park incorporates a jungle gym of tunnels, stairs,and bridges, hidden doors and passageways. With a Dungeon and Dragons theme, decor includes pennants, gargoyles, knights guarding the ramparts and an ogre with a spiked club. The park is also a beautiful place to spend time outdoors among trees, flowers and hand-made sculptures of gremlins, gnomes, and other fantasy creatures. A favorite photo-op spot is a giant, sleeping dragon. Other cool park features sure to allow kids’ imaginations to run wild are a three-headed dragon perched on a picnic gazebo and a single-headed beast sits atop a fountain of wizard heads spitting water. The park was built expecting only local visitors, but has proved to be popular with D&D fans worldwide.

Cabins:  For a rustic cabin getaway, there are a few options. Shawnee Forest Cabins  have fully furnished one and two-bedroom cabins where the whole family can cozy up for a night’s sleep before tomorrow’s adventure begins. Some of the cabins even have hot tubs, an ideal place to relax and take in the fresh air and starry nights, and maybe enjoy a bottle of wine you picked up on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.  You may even want to try to stay a night in a Tree house!

Larger families, or those traveling with a dog might want to check out Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins  which is pet friendly and has varying price points.  The largest can accommodate up to 9 people. While you’re planning your family getaway, consider Shawnee National Forest. Hike, paddle, swim, drink, eat, and enjoy quality family time. There’s something for everyone in the Shawnee National Forest at a price that makes sense.

1 Comment

Set Up Camp Here! - Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau · June 16, 2021 at 3:23 pm

[…] 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.   Since June is National Camping Month, take note – Southern Illinois has some awesome spots to camp! […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: