RV Sites
Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Drinking Water
About Garden of the Gods Recreation Area

One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods' scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic.

The Observation Trail features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.  

See below for details about camping, picnicking and other activities in the Garden of the Gods. 

Garden of the Gods brochure/map 


National Forest
Drive In
Walk In
Hike In
+ More
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Sewer Hookups
Trash Available
Garden of the Gods Recreation Area is located in Illinois
37.604 N
-88.382 W
Get Directions
From Harrisburg : Take Highway 145 south 5 miles, to Highway 34, then take 34 south for 10 miles. Then turn east onto Karbers Ridge Road 2.5 miles to Forest Road. Turn north. Drive 1.5 miles to the recreation area entrance road. 
24 Reviews of Garden of the Gods Recreation Area
Wrong Garden.

Two of the reviews are not the Illinois subject area but of somewhere in the western US. Garden of The Gods in Illinois is a beautiful area and great for relaxing, hiking, sightseeing, campings, and picnicking. Great for a day trip or extended stay while exploring the lands between the mighty rivers.

Are we in Illinois?

Garden of the Gods is a wonder to behold… especially if you are wondering how this could possibly be in Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest is a geological paradise that remains somewhat off most people's radar (luckily). Garden of the Gods may be considered its crowned jewel, which does cause it to attract a lot of visitors. The campground is small and basic with pit toilets. Campground is clean and with friendly staff but the real campsites are those that you hike into. There is nothing better than hiking in and stumbling onto a perfect cliff overhang that you can call home for the night. The hiking and views are well worth the trip, just watch your footing on some of those cliffs.

Breath taking

Beautiful open area with lots of places to climb and explore! I loved the hiking trail that takes you all the way around the park

Beautiful place to see

I love this place! Every rock as a story and it’s very unique! We drove through Atleast 4 times! I can’t wait to take my son to see it

A little slice of heaven

We almost had the entire campground to ourselves! We got there and got the best lot with a great backyard view. Garden of the gods was right around the corner and saw one of the best sunsets even though it was slightly cloudy. Would definitely recommend it!

Best view in illinois

We did not camp here though I wish we did. We did a lot of hiking all around Shawnee but this is by far favorite spot in Illinois!

Garden of the God's Recreation area

Great trails within walking distance. One of the most clear and closest to the sky areas in the midwest for sky gazing. The camp sites are nicely sized. Placed in the middle of Shawnee National Forest with plenty of trails, horseback riding, and swimming in a quick drive. Well worth the trip.

Short trip with Big Rewards

My daughter and I decided on an impromptu weekend camping/hiking trip coming from Western Kentucky. The weather was great, location amazing and scenes are breathtaking. The area was mildly populated so we had time to take pictures without being rushed. We camped at the camp sites right down the road which was very clean and well-kept. (The outhouses could use cleaning a little more often though). The hike was very easy and we recommend a sunset hike. This a very short hike so you can squeeze in several short ones in a day. The site is first come first serve and self-pay ($10 p/night). There are only 12 sites total The sites fill up quickly and we were very lucky to find one. It is considered primitive camping so no bathhouse. There is a little tradepost about 10 mins down the road if you happen to forget something. We will definitely come back again. There was so much more to do.

Views, climbing, and wildlife!

bring you climbing shoes and crash pad if you’re into it, and definitely some binoculars and a bird-book. this park has amazing views and incredible sunsets, but also a wide range of different birds and animals running around. We even had birds diving around us on the rock edges with a bird-calling app. The campground is right next to a great hike and climb area, so you really feel like you‘re camping somewhere special.

Stunning Day Hike

This is a very nice clean park. Enjoy hiking and climbing on all of the rock formations and the stunning view. Wasn't too busy but we were there on a Monday mid-afternoon.