Shawnee National Forest
Fall is magical for many us of that love the change of the season. The Midwest is chocked full of activity this time of the year; harvest, football, bonfires, and best of all – fall foliage.
Each fall, typically early November, my wife and I travel to the southern Illinois area to visit a close friend, staying in and around the Shawnee National Forest. The area is well known for it’s parks, outdoor activities, wineries and breweries, and a variety of weekend retreats and cabins to choose from for lodging. If you have never visited this area, you should. October through November is our favorite time to visit – temperatures are typically still mild, averaging 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and maybe as low as 30 degrees at night.
This year the trees were just about peak fall color. Thanks to an unusually warm October, the trees were still holding their leaves really well and the colors were amazing in most places. Here are a couple photos we snapped while walking along the narrow drive up to our cabin – quite peaceful and very beautiful.
The photo below I snapped because I thought this tree was interesting. Maybe it started off as two and grew together, or was one and split for some reason. Not sure but I have never seen anything like it before.
This visit we stayed at a very nice, very secluded, log style cabin. Placed well off the main road – nearly a mile, the two cabins on this property are a superb location for anyone looking to escape pretty much everything. The pictures above were taken of the road, or single lane more like, that you use to access the cabins. The destination is Devil’s Kitchen Cabins. The cabins are very nice, can sleep four nicely with a futon if you need it for more but I would not recommend more than four; the cabins are not very spacious. All the amenities you might want – full kitchen, good beds, gas fireplace, hot tub, grill, outdoor firepits, and a nice porch for sipping coffee or drinks on the porch swing.
Devil’s Kitchen Cabinsare located approximately ten miles south of Carbondale, Illinois. This area of southern Illinois has something for everyone – shopping, numerous wineries, some of the best hiking and backpacking in the state, fishing and wildlife, and just about everything in between.
The photos below are some that I snapped at various locations in and around the Shawnee National Forest. These are only scratching the surface of some of the most spectacular views Illinois has to offer.
If you are looking for a nice Midwest adventure with lots of variety, this area certainly has that. If you are a sporting lover, this area has some of the best fishing Illinois can offer, hiking and backpacking, and some fabulous landscapes for some great photography. So, if you are in and around the Midwest and are looking for an adventure, give this area a try; you will not be sorry.
Some useful links to places we have been and really enjoyed:
Giant City State Park – Some of the best hiking in Illinois and some great photo opportunities
Giant City Lodge – located in Giant City State Park, a rustic lodge with some fabulous cuisine. They also have cabins (never stayed). Banquet options as well.
Walker’s Bluff – A winery with so much more; bar, tasting, florist, restaurant, entertainment. If you are in this area, Walker’s Bluff is a must see.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge – For the sports lover, this area is your ticket to all things wildlife and outdoorsy. Fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife, and so much more. Permits are required, so check for information on the website.
Wineries and breweries– If this is your thing, southern Illinois has something for everyone. There are several wine tours in the area. This website has a pretty good listing of the most popular.
17th Street BBQ – Two locations to choose from. I have been to the Murphysboro, Illinois location and it will not disappoint for the BBQ lover. A must try for sure.
Kinkaid Lake – A great destination as well. Have fished for Crappie here and did fairly well. The State record Crappie just caught this spring (2017) at the lake. There is also lodging at the lake (never stayed but looks nice).
Garden of the Gods, Illinois – Photography and hikers, this is a great destination for some remarkable adventures with fabulous scenery.
A recent blog review posted about the Garden of the Gods and some trail in that area: Blog post by “plannedspontaneityhiking.com” – check it out here
Thanks for following along folks. Give this area a try if you are looking for a short getaway with lots to offer.
Until next time – Jai
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