Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest

A bit off the beaten path, the Garden of the Gods covers more than 3,300 acres of forest.

Located in the Shawnee National Forest in southeastern Illinois, the Garden of the Gods has several trails. The Observation Trail is most popular — an interpretive trail with interesting history about the geology of the area. Made of sandstone, the rock formations and cliffs are approximately 320 million years old.

Garden of the Gods

The Observation Trail follows a .25 mile stone path that leads to spectacular overlooks of the Shawnee National Forest and views of unusual rock formations. A leisurely walk along the trail can take approximately 45-minutes but do take time to enjoy the vistas.

Garden of the Gods

The path beckons. It's a "road less traveled."

Garden of the Gods

Trees growing on the top of the rocks with minimal soil. The root structures are quite interesting with some growing into the rocks.

Garden of the Gods

Rocks along the trail displays Liesegang bands/rings weathered over time. A proof that these are sedimentary rocks that were once within a body of water. [Note to self: I am but a tiny speck.]

Garden of the Gods

The elements have sculpted these unique rock formations that can be seen along the trail. At the mid-point of the trail, there are wooden and rock steps.

Garden of the Gods

The bluffs provide breathtaking views of the forests below and as far as the eye can see.

Garden of the Gods

There are a few places to rest along the trail, in addition to restrooms but they don't flush. Carry your own water. Bring food if you plan to spend some time. Disposable containers are not allowed on the trail.

Garden of the Gods

Fair warnings are posted along the trail as rocks can become slippery and dangerous when wet. In addition, some of the bluffs drop more than 100 feet down.

Garden of the Gods

Magnificent bluffs provide breathtaking views of the Shawnee National Forest.

Garden of the Gods

Sediment rock and the fractured bedrock have created an interesting rock formation.

Garden of the Gods

This area was once part of an inland sea and rivers dumped tons of sand and sediments. Over the years, the underlying debris was compressed into sandstone. When the land uplifted, the sea retreated and nature gave us the Garden of the Gods.

Garden of the Gods

The forces of nature has gradually nibbled away and removed earth up to a mile deep. This is but a snapshot of a continuing process.

Garden of the Gods

The elements of nature has sculpted some of the most stunning rock formations.

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