Garden of the Gods at Shawnee National Forrest | Kevin Scott Banks

Garden of the Gods at Shawnee National Forrest

Some friends and I planned a recent trip to the Shawnee National Forrest in Southern Illinois. It’s an area known for many trees (duh), but also a few natural wonders. The “Garden of the gods” is probably the most famous of those, and attracts multitudes of tourists each year.

We had a good-sized group, 9 of us to be exact, and set out from Nashville very early on Saturday morning. It’s quite a long drive, but that meant we were in for a road trip! I love the conversations that seem to come up when several people are stuck in the car like that.

After a lunch stop in Paducah, Kentucky, we arrived at our first destination: Heron Pond. Imagine walking through swamp lands, surrounded by towering trees. Well, you don’t have to imagine, just check out these photos.

It was good to have another photographer on the trip. I met Isaac for the first time, but we bonded over our mutual hobby.

Turns out there’s a champion Cherry Bark tree at Heron Pond. It was huge! Still, our group was able to stretch out and hold hands all the way around the base.

Next we made our way towards the Garden of the gods. But first, we were told to stop at Rimrock Trail and see the infamous “Fat Man’s Squeeze.” Bobby’s more on the thin side, so he didn’t have to squeeze too much 😉

Finally as the afternoon gave way to sunset, we arrived at Garden of the gods. We were greeted by massive rock formations jutting out from the cliff side. Immediately all the guys went into “adult playground mode” and started trying to climb as high as possible.

The view looking out from atop the cliffside was spectacular. I wagered we could see for 10 or 15 miles. Of course, my friend Andrew was there to be the voice of reason. He said it was 5 miles max.

Shout out to my gorgeous fiancée 🙂

Here’s the whole group. It was a fun crew!

We kept hearing about this “Camel Rock,” but so far we hadn’t seen anything resembling a humped creature. Until we got to this certain vantage point. That was the “ahah” moment. Can you see it?

That’s all she wrote, folks. Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the wonders of Shawnee!

Comments are closed.