Monday, March 24, 2008

Garden of the Gods, Illinois

We’re back from our trip down south but after posting the initial report on
hiking in Southern Illinois I still have tons of amazing pictures left that I have to share.

I was amazed by all the natural beauty of Southern Illinois and the number of unique parks in the area. It is truly a hikers and campers paradise. I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Illinois since 1983 and have not been down here until now. Garden of Gods seems to be the most popular of the parks in the Shawnee National Forest and it claims to be one of the most scenic areas in Illinois.

Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area is over 320 million years old and covers over 3,300 acres of old growth forest. The rock formations the Garden of the Gods resemble objects and have names like Table Rock, Camel Rock, Devil’s Smokestack, and Honeycomb Rock.

Camel Rock

Table Rock

Devil’s Smokestack

In the past there was an inland sea where now Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are located. The beautiful rock formations at Garden of the Gods are the result of millions of years of sediment accumulation shaped through the action of water and wind.

The best-known trail at the Garden of the Gods is the Observation Trail. It’s a .25-mile stone path which also has some sections of wooden steps. This trail creates a neat loop that brings you back to the place you started. From this trail you get to see the most unusual rock formations and also the largest rock formations in the Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area.

The observation trail

Parts of the observation trail consist of wooden stairs and decks

The other major trail that goes through this area is the River-to-River Trail. This trail goes from the Ohio River on the eastern side of Illinois all the way to the Mississippi River on western side of Illinois.

Hiking to Anvil Rock

Some of the rocks have very intricate designs

There is no admission fee for the Garden of the Gods.


todd said...

Very nice photos. I plan on going there today. Just returned from Colorado and visited the Curecanti (sp?) dams areas...beautiful

Anonymous said...

Found your blog when I googled Garden of the Gods, my friend and I just hiked there last Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008. Breathtaking!! Your pics are awesome, check it out in the fall sometime, the colors are breathtaking.

Anna said...

Thanks for the compliment Anonymous. That’s going to be a little hard to do now since I live in Colorado. I’m just sorry that for the 25 years that I lived in Chicagoland I only went twice to visit the state parks in Southern Illinois, both of those times in 2008. What a beautiful area.


QueenLoreen said...

Great pics! Thanx for sharing, I visited in 1985 in my early teens. It's as beautiful as I remember and I would love to go again. Your pics will help me convince my husband so again...Thank You!

Christopher Noe said...

My fiance and I are going down to Shawnee in a few weeks. We're staying in a cabin. Going to do a lot of hiking and taking pictures. I've been looking forward to visiting the Garden Of The Gods for a long time. I love your photos!

Anonymous said...

Wow, i'm impressed with the landscapes there, excellent views and nice rocks, i'm from Madeira island in Portugal and here we have some amazing landscapes, i have the oppurtunity to visit New York a couple of years ago but i've just stay in the Big Apple, but i'd love to meet the wilderness of your country, just amazing i'm truly impressed.


Sam said...

My best friend is taking me in a couple days! I'm so excited! Can't wait to see the colors since the leaves are turning.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are great - I hope we'll have good weather in late March. Been to Carbondale before (my son is student there), but this will be our first visit to Shawnee Forest.