Exploring Hills And Hollers In The Land Of Lincoln
Get access to everything we publish when you .
Shawnee National Forest defies stereotypes of the Midwest. Tucked away at the foot of Illinois, its a land of wooded hollows, rolling hills, rock escarpments and plentiful wildlife.
It was an April morning when we arrived at the visitor center, and most of the Midwest was still cold and dreary. Not Shawnee. Trees and wildflowers were already bursting with color. Birds seemed to be flitting everywhere. Since it was Thursday, we would be avoiding the weekend visitors, and as we looked around at the empty parking lot, it was clear we would have the trails to ourselves.
I was with Tim McEnery, a longtime holler rat whos been clambering about in the Shawnee for years. Tims familiar with two of the forests greatest spots: the Garden of the Gods, an area of hidden canyons and unusual, animal-like boulders and Jackson Hollow, with cliffs, forests and waterfalls that are just as dramatic but more secluded.
Explore Horseback Riding And Enjoy Amenities For Your Horse
We welcome both you and your horses, with 50 Campsites, 6 lodge rooms, 30 covered box stalls, 10 open pens for overflow and a farrier barn. We offer free lightweight highlines for your convenience behind our campsites. Youll love a day of exploring and riding through our three stunning trails. These gorgeous trails lead you through the Lusk Creek Wilderness area, Bay Creek Wilderness area, and the Shawnee National Forest. We offer maps of the trails around our campground. After a day of riding, relax on our large, covered porch or enjoy watching television in our lodge. Stay tuned for horse riding events and adventures at Little Lusk Campground.
Hog Rock Ranch & Campground
Enjoy 3/4 mile of Ohio River frontage in the Shawnee National Forest. We have 115 RV sites with 30amp/120V electric and water. We have boat ramp access to the river and two dump stations. Open May 1st through November 15th and are just up the river from Cave-In-Rock. Come for a weekend, stay for a week, or even longer.
Read Also: Free Camping Near Barstow Ca
Village Of Cave In Rock
There are 34 Class A sites that rent for $20 a night, and $30 a night on holiday weekends/weekdays . Each is equipped with electricity and can accommodate units up to 60-feet long. Twenty-five Class B/S tent sites also are available for $10 a night, and showers, restrooms and dumping stations are present in both camping areas.
Explore Epic Il Weekend Getaway Ideas In Nature: Campgrounds & Camping Near Shawnee Forest Illinois
We’re all needing a little escape into the wild to come back to everyday life feeling refreshed and recharged. Us glampers know camping in the Midwest is the best way to do that. To help you plan an epic IL weekend getaway we’ve listed some of the top campgrounds in Southern Illinois! Camping near Shawnee National Forest, IL means you can go hiking, biking, fishing, picnicking, whatever your heart desires by day and by night stay in your own secluded cabins, safari tents, or even treehouses for unique and inspirational vacations. Consider going to see the beautiful Burden Falls on your visit as well. To help we’ve listed some of the best places to camp near Burden Falls, Illinois. With so many outdoor activities to do, who wants to leave their furry friend behind. We’ve listed some of the best pet – friendly rentals nearby as well so you don’t have to. So what are you waiting for? Book the best campgrounds in Southern Illinois today!
Read Also: Rv Camping In Colorado National Parks
Shawnee National Forest Camping: Privately Owned Campgrounds
Privately owned campgrounds near the Shawnee National Forest and around southern Illinois.
Benton KOA Journey
Benton, Illinois website. This campground is open all year round. Reservation available online and by phone at 800-562-8619. There are over 50 sites available including full hook-up and even primitive tent camping sites. This is close to Rend Lake Recreational Area.
Goreville, Illinois 995-9130. Nightly rate is $30.00. Power and sewer available. Clean restrooms. Nearby recreation includes Ferne Clyffe State Park and Tunnel Hill State Trail. Goreville is the closest community and features restaurants, ATM, grocery, and fuel stations.
Four Seasons Campground
Herrin, Illinois website. 31 full hook-up sites. 14 pull-through sites. Storm shelter on site! Shower house, laundry services, fast Wi-Fi, and handicap accessible. Dump stations. Also 4 cabins for rent on site as well. For questions or reservations please call 618 942-2069 or e-mail at . Herrin City Park is nearby which includes many features including a public swimming pool, various sport ball courts and a walking/running path. Nearby City of Herrin offers many dining and shopping opportunities.
Shawnee Forest Campground
Main Brothers Campground
Shawnee National Forest: Camping Hiking And Lodging
Illinois is a very long state about 9 hours from top to tip. Many Illinois travelers head west to the Rocky Mountains, or north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for vacation, leaving Southern Illinois a hidden gem of the Midwest. The heart of outdoor adventure in Southern Illinois is Shawnee National Forest, with over 280,000 acres of protected land to explore. In this post, Ill cover where to hike in Shawnee National Forest, plus camping, lodging, and cabins near Shawnee National Forest.
This post contains affiliate links. Buying through these links will not cost you extra, but I will earn a small commission.
Also Check: Does Camping World Take Trade Ins
Shawnee National Forest To Open Majority Of Campgrounds
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS – A majority of the campgrounds and restrooms at the Shawnee National Forest will reopen on Thursday, June 12.
While the forest service is looking forward to giving visitors more ways to get out and enjoy nature, the move comes with a warning.
We are excited to get visitors back onto the forest recreating however, we would remind visitors to continue to follow CDC health and safety guidelines and practice good social distancing while recreating on your Shawnee National Forest, said new Acting Forest Supervisor Robert West.
Visitors are asked to stay as local as possible when choosing a site to visit and to pack out everything they bring, especially trash. Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local health and safety guidance.
Open campgrounds include:
- Johnson Creek Campground, Jackson County
- Pine Hills Campground, Union County
- Camp Cadiz Campground, Hardin County
- Pharaoh Campground at Garden of the Gods, Saline County
- Tower Rock Campground, Hardin County
Recreation sites with open restrooms are located at:
- Little Grand Canyon
Shawnee National Forest Camping: East Side
Campgrounds ran by the US Forest Service located on the East Side also called Hidden Springs Ranger District:
Redbud Campground is located within Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area. It is a first come, first serve 21 site non-electric campground with pine trees and space in between each site. There is a water spigot and single-person vault toilets on site. Dumpsters are also on site. The campground is $10/night and allowed up to 8 people and 2 vehicles per site. Payment is accepted through a pay tube. No host or worker is available on site, but Forest Service does occasionally drive through the campground.
You can find directions to the site on . The GPS Coordinates to this campground is: 37°3118.0N 88°3923.7W. Redbud Campground is open from March 15 to December 15. During the shotgun hunting season , hunters usually occupy all the sites. During the closure period, a gate at the campground is closed and locked. There are numerous areas to hike around this area including Bell Smith Springs, Burden Falls and Jackson Falls. The nearest town is Eddyville. For dining, I recommend Shotgun Eddys and Murphys Pit BBQ.
Camp Cadiz Campground
Oak Point Campground
You can find directions to the site on . The GPS Coordinates to this campground is: 37°2455.1N 88°4000.5W. The campground is open all year round. Showers available in the campground.
Pine Ridge Campground
Tower Rock Campground
Don’t Miss: Camping World Rv St George Utah
Shawnee National Forest Camping
There is a huge variety of camping options in Shawnee National Forest. From primitive to glamping, here are your best options for camping in Southern Illinois.
- Garden of the Gods Camping there are 12 rustic campsites at Garden of the Gods, and they are first-come, first-served only, no reservations accepted. For more modern camping, head to nearby Cave-In-Rock State Park. open year-round
- Cave-In-Rock State Park here youll find 34 Class A sites with electricity, and 24 tent sites. The campground has showers and restrooms, plus dining at the lodge.
- Trail of Tears State Forest has rustic campsites for $8 per night. The sites are remotely located on two rutted dirt road loops. Each site has an outhouse, fire pit, and picnic table, but otherwise, it feels a lot like backcountry camping as you dont have any neighbors. open year-round, although the roads are closed in winter
- Giant City State Park a very nice modern camping facility with 85 Class A campsites, a tent camping area with walk-in sites and a primitive campsite requiring a 6-mile hike. I *may* have stolen a shower here since my campground didnt have any! open year-round
Hiking Through The Garden Of The Gods
Eight miles of interconnected loop trails wind through the Garden of the Gods ~ not enough for a major trip, but plenty for what we had in mind. We hadnt gone far before Tim held up his hand, motioning me to stop. Up there, he pointed. Four deer are behind those trees. Deer might not rank with herds of white rhinos or flocks of whooping cranes as exotic sightings, but they still make me smile. Only problem was it took me some time to figure out exactly which trees Tim was talking about. The only glimpse I caught was of pennant-like white tails disappearing deeper into the woods.
The vegetation grew denser and more tangled as we hiked through and along rocky streams, beside 80-foot cliffs, and past an old settlers homestead marked only by a rock cistern and day lilies. I started feeling a little lost, but was told thats not possible here: All the trails lead back to the parking area.
I noticed that Tim kept staring at his feet. Looking for wildflowers, I presumed. Also snakes, he mentioned later, as though it were hardly worth noting. Its still early in the year, but on a warm day like this, copperheads and rattlesnakes sun themselves on the trail. A lot of folks down here like snakes. The Forest Service even closes a major road for about a month each spring to allow snakes to migrate without being run over.
Recommended Reading: Keystone State Park Oklahoma Camping Reservations
Johnson Creek Recreation Area
Image from the Dyrt camper Em P.
Sitting on the shores of the placid Kinkaid Lake, Johnson Creek Recreation Area is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a well-rounded Shawnee National Forest camping trip. With access to hiking, kayaking, biking and even horseback riding, Johnson Creek is the ideal spot for families and groups with a wide range of outdoor interests.
The campground includes 20 first-come, first-served sites and is open from March 15 through the 15th of December. The campground also offers access to a boat ramp, picnic tables, toilets and drinking water. Great for fishing, the lake is also host to a kids fishing derby each May.
The campground has three small loops. Two are more forested with smaller sites and one is more open on the edge of the forest and geared up for equestrian camping. There are very basic pit toilets that were fairly new and clean. You can get potable water at the entrance. We camped here mid-April and the campground water spigots had not been turned on yet. Camping is $10 a night self check-in. No need to worry about finding firewood, as it is plentiful within the forest. Listened to owls at night before bed.The Dyrt Camper Stacia R.
Shawnee National Forest Lodging
If you arent a camper, dont worry! There are many places to stay in Shawnee National Forest where you can have a bed and a hot shower. Some of the best options for lodging in this region include the State Park lodges, many of which also offer cabins near Shawnee National Forest. This is Illinois glamping at its finest!
- Cave in Rock State Park the Lodge here has four duplex cabins with eight suites, featuring a kitchenette, bathroom and sleeping areas. Theres a great dining room here with a nice patio overlooking the Ohio River into Kentucky.
- The Lodge at Giant City State Park has 34 cabins with heat, A/C and full bathrooms. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at the Bald Knob dining room, next to the Great Room in this fantastic CCC-built stone structure.
Recommended Reading: Joshua Tree Rv Camping Airbnb
What Makes It Great
As for the national forest, the highlight for most are the scenic attractions found at the Garden of the Gods, which is known by geologists as an uplifted sandstone plateau. Unlike the rest of Illinois, the glaciers never reached this far south to level the terrain. So were not blessed with these outcropping of rock that look as though precariously put together by, well, I guess gods if were to believe the name. Its not surprising that Garden of the Gods is the most visited site in the national forest. But there are also more than 403 miles of equestrian and hiking trials to explore, including the River to River Trail, a 160-mile route that will take you from Battery Rock on the Ohio River to Devils Backbone Park on the Mississippi River. Hikers have been known to do the whole trail over several weeks, but you can also just pick a section for day hikes.
The national forest was created when the federal government purchased much of the land, which was mostly exhausted farmland, in the 1930s. President Franklin Roosevelt declared the area the Shawnee National Forest in 1939. Previous to that, members of the Civilian Conservation Core planted many of the pine and hardwood trees that make up the forest today.
Trail Of Tears State Forest
Both Class C and Class D camping sites are available at the State Forest. Some locations have log shelters with adjacent privies. Group camping is available at a few sites. The forests gravel roads are closed to vehicles from December 24 through the end of the spring wild turkey hunting season . All camping access is by foot only during that period .
Recommended Reading: Tent Camping At Grand Canyon
Hotels Near Shawnee National Forest
Prefer a standard hotel over lodges and cabins? There are a few towns nearby with lodging options. Click the Booking.com links below to browse hotels near the Shawnee National Forest.
- Browse Carbondale, IL hotels Carbondale is home of Southern Illinois University, so beware of special event weekends, such as graduation, parents weekend, etc. This is the town closest to Giant City State Park.
- Browse this is a good central location if you plan to explore both sides of the national forest, and is a halfway point between Garden of the Gods and Giant City.
- Browse Mount Vernon hotels for an option on the east side of Southern Illinois, this is a historic town with cute shops and cafes if you prefer a less outdoorsy visit to the area.
I would highly recommend Southern Illinois for a long weekend of exploring. Garden of the Gods and Giant City State Parks seem to be really convenient, central locations to all the attractions, as well as offering different types of lodging like lodges, cabins, and camping.
Hunt Fish Hike And Camp In Our Alluring Natural Surroundings
The Shawnee National Forest provides the perfect backdrop for all of your camping needs. Take a day to visit the tallest falls in Illinois at Burden Falls. Hike through the scenic canyons of Bell Smith Springs and then dive into the primitive swimming holes. We have some of the best fishing in the area located right on our campground. Enjoy a day of hunting in the area, and then come back to relax in your private room at night. The stunning natural surroundings offer numerous valleys, hills, and wood lots for your adventuresome spirit.
Also Check: Dispersed Camping Near Ogden Utah
Ferne Clyff State Park
Ferne Clyffe has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot for nearly 100 years. An abundance of ferns, unique geological features and unusual plant communities create an atmosphere that enhances the many recreational facilities offered at the park. Trails wind through picturesque woods, allowing visitors to view fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas.
Book Your Illinois Cabin Rental: Shawnee National Forest Rentals For A Weekend Spent Glamping In Illinois Book Shawnee State Forest Cabins
Shawnee National Forest is the perfect place to go glamping in Illinois this year, especially in these Shawnee Forest cabins! Shawnee National Forest cabins are close to plenty of hiking trails, you can challenge yourself with tougher routes, or take an easier one to sight see before returning to your cozy Shawnee State Forest cabin rentals. You can even opt to go fishing, horseback riding, or boating there truly is something for everyone looking to stay in these cabins for rent in Shawnee National Forest. Cabin rentals like these, are the perfect lodge to go back after a long day of adventures. Sit back and put your feet up in one of these awesome camping cabins near Shawnee National Forest, Illinois. Cabins Shawnee National Forest offers, have all you need to relax and de-stress, whilst still being in touch with nature. Check out this collection of Shawnee State Forest cabins and book your cabin rental, Shawnee National Forest camping cabins like these book up quickly! No need to keep searching for Shawnee cabins, we’ve got you covered with the best places to stay in IL.
Last minute booking.The accommodations indicated with the icononly allow same-day reservations within strict time limits. Please bear this in mind to guarantee your reservation.
There are no more accommodations that exactly fit your criteria. You can try broadening your search by changing some of the filters or move and zoom-out into the map to show more results.
Don’t Miss: Best Camping Near Lake Placid