the dyrt
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   
Drive In, Walk In, Hike In
National Forest
+ More
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
No Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
No Market
Pets Allowed
Picnic Table
Not Reservable
No Sanitary Dump
No Sewer Hookups
No Showers
Trash Available
No Water Hookups
No WiFi
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. 
19 Reviews of Garden of the Gods Recreation Area
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.


Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest, Il used to be a favorite of my kids. They would climb all over the rock formations trying to catch lizards, stressing me out continually with their acrobatic antics. 

Visiting these days is definitely less stressful but just as enjoyable. The view is extraordinary and the geological wonders are very cool. The pathway is still the original stonework done by the CCC in addition there are modern day improvements most notably being the barcode information signs. Then there is the bike parking and the new toilet facilities. 

Pharaoh Campground has improved immeasurably from the 90’s when I would make the kids stay in the car until I checked the campsite for drug paraphernalia. The campground is very well maintained and you have the choice of camping near other people or picking a more secluded site.

Garden of the Gods Wilderness offers not only a challenging hike but a lot of scenery along the way. It’s part of the River to River trail and horse riders use the same trails in the GOG area. 

We took the time to walk the rock formations and explore down the path a ways. Interesting history and awesome area. I never get tired of checking out the views.


Great hiking, there are plenty of spots to take in scenic views! Garden of the Gods will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first place my boyfriend and I hiked together.

Great views and easy camping

The site is your standard plot with a table and fire pit. You pay in a cash box on the honor system. Be sure to hide tour food at night as raccoons are guaranteed to inspect them! We ventured out on the trail one night and camped in a clearing on a bluff overlooking the forest. Absolutely stunning!

Beautiful views and easy camping

Campsites are standard with a table and fire pit. Pay on the honor system in a cash box, 5 or 10$ I believe. Raccoons will inspect your stuff at night so pack up those snacks!! We also ventured out on the trail for 2 days and camped in some clearings which was a blast! It was toasty hiking through the muggy woods but the cliffs and clearings provided a breeze that made it easy.

Amazing geological area!!

The campground is right next to the main garden but so much to see in the area!! Sites are cliff side so be aware..My family of 5 stayed 2 nights. Pit toilets were well maintained, fire rings provided and nicely kept grounds with observed quiet times made for a fantastic stay!!