In the southern tip of Illinois lies the rolling Shawnee Hills where 289,000 acres await you to relax, unwind and explore the Shawnee National Forest. Here you will find vast forests, wetlands and rugged bluffs home to a variety of plants and animals. The natural beauty of the area is ideal for all types of outdoor recreation.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
Recreation Conditions Report
|Area Name||Status||Area Conditions|
|Bald Knob Wilderness||Open|
|Bay Creek Lake||Open|
|Bay Creek Wilderness||Open|
|Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area||Open||Forest Order signed April 7, 2021 prohibits possessing any food or beverage glass containers in the Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area, excluding the Redbud Campground. (persuant 36 CFR 261.58cc)|
|Burden Fall Wilderness||Open|
|Camp Cadiz Campground||Open|
|Clear Springs Wilderness||Open|
|Garden of the Gods Recreation Area||Open|
|Garden of the Gods Wilderness||Open|
|High Knob Lookout||Open|
|Illinois Iron Furnace Historic Site||Open|
|Johnson Creek Recreation Area||Open||January 14, 2022 - Water at Campground is turned on but not potable. It is recommended you bring your own drinking and cooking water or boil the water the appropriate length of time before drinking to kill any bacteria.|
|Kinkaid Lake & Trail System||Open|
|Lake Glendale Recreation Area||Open|
|Lake of Egypt||Open|
|Little Grand Canyon Trail||Open|
|Lusk Creek Canoe/Kayak Access||Open|
|Lusk Creek Wilderness||Open|
|Millstone Bluff Archaeological Area||Open|
|One Horse Gap Lake||Open|
|Panther Den Wilderness||Open|
|Pennant Bar Openlands||Open|
|Pine Hills Campground||Open|
|Pomona Natural Bridge Trail||Open|
|Pounds Hollow Recreation Area||Open|
|Rim Rock National Recreation Trail||Open||A portion of Rim Rock Trail is closed. However Rim Rock Trail's upper trail loop is still open. The closed portion of the trail is the descent from the upper trail's observation deck to the lower trail. The closed segment includes the wooden staircase and stone steps descent to Ox-lot Cave. However, Ox-lot Cave can be reached by-way of the lower trail segment that leaves the parking lot. Repairs are needed and visitors should heed all closure signs and closure barriers along the trail. The trail closure will likely continue through the winter months, however this website will be updated when the repairs are complete.|
|River to River Trail||Open|
|Simpson Barrens Natural Area||Open|
|Tower Rock Campground||Open|
|Underground Railroad: Crow Knob||Open|
|Whoopie Cat Lake||Open|
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 features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail 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.
Float one of the most scenic creeks in southern Illinois. Lusk Creek Canoe/Kayak access is located just minutes from Eddyville, IL and offers easy access for recreating on beautiful Lusk Creek. The site features a walk-down launch path, spaceous parking lot and information board with detailed map.
Due to its ecological significance the Shawnee National Forest designated Lusk Creek a Zoological Area within the boundaries of Lusk Creek Wilderness. Lusk Creek Wilderness lies about 4 miles north of this Lusk Creek access point. Special restrictions apply within the Wilderness and Zoological Area, see the restrictions section below.