My family and I have traveled on the I-24 corridor through Southern Illinois several times and never taken an exit. I recently learned that this was a huge mistake. This corridor is lined with amazing nature and beauty that you cannot find in any other place in the United States. The only way to experience all of it, is to take an exit ramp off of I-24. We all get in a hurry to get from destination a to destination b and often forget about what is in between.
Before you venture off of I-24, I would make it a point to stock up on groceries, bottled water and snacks that you may want. There are a few grocery stores here and there in the Southernmost part of Illinois, but they are not around every corner. The Illinois Ozarks offer solitude that you simply cannot find everywhere.
The Garden of the Gods is located within the boundaries of the Shawnee National Forest.
Numerous hiking trails, including the famous River to River Trail, are located in the Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois.
A campground is located here and offers year round camping. With 5.5 miles of hiking trails here, surrounded by stunning views, you cannot go wrong. Keep in mind, the rocks here do get very slippery when wet. I did not visit at sunset, but I can tell you that I would highly recommend visiting at sunset. The views here have to be some of the best in the world when daylight wraps up.
Lake Glendale Stables offers horseback riding. If you are a beginner or experienced horseback rider, there is a horse for you.
The guides at Lake Glendale Stables are knowledgeable and will make sure your feet fit correctly in the stirrups and you will be good to go. And again… the view here, are priceless.
The Southernmost part of Illinois offers quiet and peace in a way that we all long for in our crazy, busy world today. Cave In Rock State Park offered views that were amazing. Be sure to wear shoes, not flip flops, so it’s easy to hike back into the cave area.
And then there is glamping! Book your stay in a tree house at Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins.
Authenticity to the max, is what you will find when you spend a night in a tree house. Your family will be so glad that you took Exit #16 off of I-24 (last place for gas, groceries and fast food) for quite a while. Southernmost Illinois will warm your heart and leave you with a new appreciation of the great outdoors in the midwest.
*Thank you to Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins for hosting me while I explored the area with the Southern Illinois Tourism folks.