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Shawnee National Forest

Perhaps Illinois’ most diverse population of wildlife calls the Shawnee National Forest home. Many of them are endangered and rarely seen by man, but most are so abundant, you may feel outnumbered.

Interesting rock formations also abound the park, and with names such as Garden of the Gods, Devil’s Smokestack and Camel Rock, it is more than tempting to trudge out and view them all. Several National and local parks traverse the huge forest, making navigation simple. And much of the site is made up of protected “wilderness areas” so you can be reassured that things will change only slightly for generations to come.

The Shawnee has all of the outdoor basics, along with a couple rare perks. Between hiking, swimming and horseback riding, try your hand at mushroom gathering and berry picking.

If you’re looking for a unique outdoor adventure to really get you back to nature, Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois is perfect. And it’s a quick drive from any of the major metropolitan areas in the reason.