Why You Need to Hop Off The I-24 Corridor In Southern Illinois

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.

Garden of Gods

Numerous hiking trails, including the famous River to River Trail, are located in the Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois.

trail in Garden of Gods

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.

Sara on horse

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.

Cave In Rock

And then there is glamping! Book your stay in a tree house at Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins.

Sara at treehouse

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.

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24 comments on “Why You Need to Hop Off The I-24 Corridor In Southern Illinois

  1. There’s a lot to do there! Way more than one would ever believe. I enjoyed following your visit!

  2. You are so right Sara, Southern Illinois should not be overlooked as a Midwest destination! Horseback riding would be so much fun in the area. I can’t wait to get back in either the summer or fall.

  3. The place looks great and nature is at its stunning best. Treehouse is amazing. Sounds like a fun and adventurous place.
    I have never been to Illinois. Loved reading about it and hope to get there some day.

  4. Wow, there’s just so much to discover in this world! Great find, thanks for sharing. Happy travels 🙂

  5. Wow so much stunning nature and outdoor adventures! We’ve also jumped on the I-24 corridor through Southern Illinois many times without taking an exit. Might re think this on our next trip. Thanks!

  6. Wow, never knew that was there, Have been through Ozarks in Missouri and it is pristine and peaceful. Good tip on stocking up on snack and water, I seem to remember not really anywhere to stop for a bit to eat of course that was nearly 20 years ago :). And fill up gas every chance you get 🙂

  7. We need to change that! You need to get out and explore Illinois.. there are many gems in the midwest!

  8. Yes, this is definitely worth a visit!

  9. This sounds like a cool place to visit for a weekend. I have only been to Chicago but one day plan to do a road trip from there to Seattle so will bear this in mind for that

  10. I’ve never driven through Illinois, which is obviously my first mistake. I would never have known all that beauty was out there. This is why road trips are the best. You can find great things off the beaten path.

  11. Your article is amazing! I would love to go there too and experience your adventure! cheers xx

  12. vishalgmr1971 on said:

    This looks fun. I would love to try and enjoy. Hope you had a lot of fun.

  13. This place looks amazing!!! I am going to plan it for sure!! Great post and beautiful images!! Btw i love horses <3

  14. SaraB on said:

    Yes, it’s a great place!

  15. Wow, this place looks awesome! Such a beautiful nature scene. It’s always nice to get away from life in the city and enjoy the natural world around us. It looks like you guys had a great time! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  16. SaraB on said:

    I know…. any road other than an I something, usually offers something amazing!

  17. I would have no trouble leaving I-24 because I prefer smaller roads to the interstates. Nice to learn about great places. in Illinois.

  18. SaraB on said:

    Worth a visit!

  19. Really beautiful!

  20. Lived in IL for most my life and I didn’t know this place existed – thanks for sharing!!

  21. SaraB on said:

    I know, right? A new gem around every corner.

  22. SaraB on said:

    Yes, plan it now!

  23. The treehouse looks amazing. I used to live in Illinois but did not venture to any of these places. Time to make a return visit!

  24. Beautiful, what a great gem in the Midwest. I had no idea Illinois had so much beauty.

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