In a state known for rich farmland and big cities, the outstanding scenery of southern Illinois is a refreshing surprise. Forested Shawnee hills and rocky bluffs give way to gently rolling farmland, charming small towns, unique state parks and local antique and winery venues. Experience this diverse landscape and its people on the Ohio River National Scenic Byway and Great River Road.
Looking for solitude? Check out our seven wilderness areas, which were designated through the Illinois Wilderness Act of 1990. Wilderness areas are some of the largest contiguous forested lands within the Shawnee, and together they make up about 10 percent of the national forest. Visit our wilderness page for detailed information on special restrictions.
Help protect these archeological sites during your visit.
Camel Rock – Garden of the Gods
Camel Rock, located in the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, is one of Illinois’ most photographed places. Because it represents the region’s outstanding beauty, this iconic rock formation is featured in the U.S. Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
Here, you can picnic, camp, hike and explore nature. Camel Rock is located along the Observation Trail, a quarter-mile stone trail.
Clear, rocky streams and scenic canyons bordered by high sandstone cliffs and plants unique to Illinois. The trail consists of seven miles of interconnected trails, featuring strange and wonderful rock formations, such as Devil’s Backbone, Boulder Falls and a natural rock bridge.
This place has it all – majestic bluffs, a lush bottomland habitat, colorful cliffs and expansive views of the Big Muddy and Mississippi rivers. If you like to watch birds, this spot is haven for neotropical migratory songbirds during the spring and fall.
Majestic views await you at Inspiration Point, a National Recreation Trail, located at LaRue Pine Hills. With more than 170 bird species, it is a birders’ paradise. In the spring, the trail is bordered with wildflowers — blazing star, bellwort, bluets and spiderwort.