Garden of the Gods Recreation Area


One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods' scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic. The Observation Trail is a 1/4-mile loop trail, containing unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The tail's surface is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.  

See below for details about camping, picnicking and other activities in the Garden of the Gods. 

Garden of the Gods brochure/map 


At a Glance

Current Conditions: Campground contains12 campsites; Additional camping can be found by traveling east on Karbers Ridge Road to Pounds Hollow Campground.
Operational Hours: Recreation Area is open year round.
Picnic area and Observation Trail hours of operation - 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 
Reservations: 12 Campsites
Campground is first come- first served.  No reservations.
Area Amenities: Interpretive Site,Accessible,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees Campsite $10/night - 8 people & 2 vehicle max.
Permit Info: No permit is required for entering or camping in Garden of the Gods Wilderness.
Open Season: Year-round
Busiest Season: April and October
  • Overnight parking allowed at Backpacker's Parking Lot only (Indian Point Trailhead).
  • Pets are allowed only on a leash.
  • Picnic areas and Observation Trail are open 6am-10pm.
  • Use trash receptacles. Pack It In, Pack It Out rules apply to
  • the entire trail system.
  • Camp only at designated sites in the campground.
  • Disposable food and beverage containers are not permitted
  • on the Observation Trail.
  • Stay on the designated trail and leave the beauty of the
  • rocks and plants for others to enjoy.
Closest Towns: Herod, IL 62947
Water: campground only
Restroom: vault toilets
Information Center: Forest Headquarters (618) 253-7114

General Information


From Harrisburg: take Highway 145 south 5 miles, to Highway 34, then take 34 south for 10 miles. Then turn east onto Karbers Ridge Road 2.5 miles to Forest Road. Turn north. Drive 1.5 miles to the recreation area entrance road. 


Observation Trail has two large parking lots. Overnight parking is allowed at Backpacker's Parking Lot in the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area and at Hitching Post Trailhead along Gape Hollow Road on the west side of Garden of the Gods Wilderness. No overnight parking is allowed in picnic area or Observation Trail parking lots.

General Notes:

Trail Markings:

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

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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Picnic tables
Drinking water campground only
Interpretive Site along observation trail
Toilets vault toilets
Parking day parking only
Tent camping
Accessible campground & vault toilets
Camping trailer pop-up trailers
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