Garden of the Gods Recreation Area


The Shawnee Hills took millions of years to form. The rock formations and cliffs at Garden of the Gods are made of sandstone and are about 320 million years old. Long ago most of Illinois, western Indiana and western Kentucky were covered by a giant inland sea. For millions of years great rivers carried sand and mud to the sea, where it settled along the shoreline. Over time, the weight of the sediments turned them into layers of rock thousands of feet thick. At Garden of the Gods the sediment layers were over 20,000 feet thick or about 4 miles deep. Eventually, a great uplift occurred, raising the inland sea above sea level causing it to fill in with sand and mud. The uplift also fractured the bedrock exposing it to nature's erosive forces. Since that time, windblown sand, rain and freezing and thawing actions have worn down the layers of sediment creating the beautiful rock formations at Garden of the Gods. To find out more read the signs along the Observation Trail.Garden of the Gods has Observation Trail, Pharaoh Campground and a picnic area. Observation Trail is a 1/4-mile flagstone loop walk containing unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. Wooden and rock steps occur at midpoint.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Recreation Area is open year round. Picnic area and Observation Trail hours of operation are from dawn to dusk. 
Reservations: Campground is first come- first served.
Fees Pharaoh Campground fee $10
Open Season: Year-round
Busiest Season: April and October
Closest Towns: Herod, IL or Harrisburg, IL
Restroom: All areas have vault toilets.
Information Center: Surrounding Area Attractions: Pounds Hollow Recreation Area, Rim Rock National Recreation Trail, River to River Trail, High Knob Picnic Area, Glen O. Jones Lake, Ohio River National Scenic Byway. The nearest hospital is Harrisburg Medical Center in Harrisburg.

General Information



From Harrisburg, take Highway 145 south 5 miles to Highway 34, turn south. Take 34 south for 5 miles, then east on Karbers Ridge Road 2.5 miles to Garden of the Gods Road. Turn north onto Garden of the Gods Road. 1.5 miles to recreation area entrance road. There are directional signs from Harrisburg to the recreation area.

Trail Markings: River To River Trail - blue i
Hiker/Equestrian Trail - white diamond
Hiker-Only Trail include:  The Observation Trail, Indian Point Trail, portions of the Anvil Rock Trail, and Trail # 108H. 

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