Scenic Drives in Shawnee Forest Country In Southernmost Illinois

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118 miles:  Rt. 13, 142, Shawnee Forest Rd, Garden of the Gods Rd, Karbers Ridge Rd,  Rt. 1, 146, 145

  1. Harrisburg, IL
  2. Equality, IL
  3. Garden of the Gods
  4. Rim Rock Trail
  5. Pounds Hollow Lake
  6. Cave In Rock
  7. Elizabethtown, IL
  8. Rosiclare, IL
  9. Golconda, IL
  10. Dixon Springs State Park
  11. The Chocolate Factory

Harrisburg is the gateway to the Shawnee National Forest.   Experience this drive in every season.  Spring blooms, summer adventures, fall colors, even in winter when the trees are bare, allowing you to see much further into the forests. Bluffs hidden behind the summer foliage emerge dramatically into sight.

Travel Rt. 13 East, then south on Rt. 142 to the small town of Equality, where you might want to try the popular eatery, the Red Onion.  Follow the Ohio River Scenic Byway on Shawnee Forest Road to Garden of the Gods.

Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock/Pounds Hollow Recreational area are three must see locations on the eastern side of the Shawnee National Forest.  Garden of the Gods consists of spectacular overlooks and views of unusual rock formations. One formation, known as Camel Rock, is featured in the America the Beautiful Quarter Program representing Illinois and came out in 2016.  Be sure and stop at the Garden of the Gods Outpost, and get a selfie with Sassy the Sasquatch.

Take Karbers Ridge Road East to Rt. 1 south to Cave In Rock State Park.  Take time to explore the cave and enjoy the Ohio River view from the Lodge Restaurant.   Elizabethtown is a few miles west on Hwy. 146 where you can indulge in a fresh fish dinner at the floating E’Town River Restaurant.

Continuing west on Hwy. 146, the nearby town of Rosiclare grew up around the discovery of large deposits of fluorspar in 1843.   For a relaxing break, stroll along the town’s river walk or browse Rose Clare Craft and Antique Mall.   When you reach historic Golconda,  consider taking the self guided audio tour with Golconda.oncell.com. 

Once you have had your sweet treat from the Chocolate Factory, take Rt. 145 north back to Harrisburg.  Along the way you have several opportunities to venture  into  forest locations such as Millstone Bluff, Jackson Falls and Bell Smith Springs. For more information, visit www.southernmostillinois.com or call 1-800-C-IT-HERE