ILLINOIS, USA — Garden of the Gods
A great starting place for your trip to the Shawnee National Forest is Garden of the Gods. It’s the most popular spot to visit there.
You can take in sights like Camel Rock, which is a well photographed spot that was featured on the reverse side of a 2016 Illinois quarter.
“We’re making our way to probably the most Instagrammed, most popular spot in the Shawnee National Forest.”
Shawn Gossman gave the Show Me St. Louis team a tour. He has a YouTube channel called Hiking with Shawn.
“I probably come here once a month.”
The owner of Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins, Steve Melville, also knows the area like the back of his hand. "There's so much to do, so easy to navigate, so many great destination hikes."
Whether you have tour guides or not, you should have no problem finding your way around Garden of the Gods since the trail is paved and just a quarter of a mile long. While the trail is short, you can spend a long time on top of the rocks soaking up what mother nature has to offer.
Many rock formations have nicknames. There’s Camel Rock, which is featured on the quarter, Devil’s Smokestack, Monkey Head, and Eye of the Needle. “These bluff, which I have nicknamed bluffage, they’re the most ancient part of this forest. It’s proof of an ocean that was once out here.”
While taking in all of the beautiful scenery, make sure to put safety first. Always watch your kids and pets if you bring them with you.
To see other gems in the area, you’ll have to go off the beaten path. Not too far from here is the River to River Trail where you will find The Arch of the Gods.
Garden of the Gods is beautiful no matter what path you choose.
Indian Point Trail
Can't get enough of Garden of the Gods? Well, there's more to explore!
Another trail located at Garden of the Gods is Indian Point Trail. It’s a loop under two miles long and is a rugged path.
It’s an opportunity to explore the unique landscape. There are a few nice overlooks to stop in and take in the views.
About one mile east of Garden of the Gods on a section of the River to River Trail, you will find a bluff line called Buzzard’s Roost.
It is also recognized as Buzzard Point.
If you love natural wonders, you will want to make sure you check this out. As you walk around, you will find iron layers that settled into the rock when it got formed and later affected the way it all eroded.
There are so many hiking trails to explore within a short distance. High Knob is another near Garden of the Gods, Rim Rock, and Pounds Hollow. It’s a one-mile loop.
Visitors can hike, relax, and explore at High Knob.
The rock formations make you feel like an ant. Plus, the winter is a great time to come and see the area, while enjoying the solitude.
This trail is for the more adventurous hiker. It’s about thirty minutes west of Garden of the Gods.
Jackson Falls is a rock climber’s paradise in Southern Illinois. They come from all over to see mother nature’s gems.
It’s considered one of the best climbing areas in the whole state. The waterfalls are stunning this time of year.
There are about one and a half miles of hiking at Jackson Falls.
This waterfall is the most popular to visit in the area. Burden Falls is formed by Burden Creek.
It’s considered the tallest waterfall in Southern Illinois. It’s not free-falling but goes through three different tiers.
This is the most popular waterfall because you can park on the side of the road, and it’s just a few feet from your car. After all, you will do enough hiking in one day.