Southern Illinois Nature Reserves

Wilderness Escape: Discovering the Hidden Gems of Southern Illinois

Are you ready for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure? Southern Illinois offers stunning landscapes and wildlife. It’s perfect for those who love nature. The area is known for its forests, waterfalls, and wildlife on beautiful trails.

So, what sets Southern Illinois apart from other places? Put on your hiking boots and let’s find out. There are many hidden treasures in this magical place.

Key Takeaways:

  • Illinois has 70 state parks, 2,900 lakes, and seven scenic byways. This means you’ll never run out of outdoor activities.
  • Check out the “Real People, Real Stories, Real Outdoors” video series. It shows Illinois’ amazing natural beauty.
  • Southern Illinois boasts seven wilderness areas, nine state parks, and various activities like hiking and wildlife watching.
  • Some top spots for hiking include Starved Rock, Matthiessen, and Shawnee Forest. Be ready for some breathtaking views.
  • Dive into the stunning nature of Southern Illinois. It’s perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors.

Exploring the Southern Tip of Illinois: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Southern Illinois hides many treasures for nature fans. It has lots of nature reserves, wildlife, and fun hiking trails. This area is next to the Ohio River and the Mississippi River. It’s easy to get to and filled with outdoor fun.

Nature Reserves and Wilderness Areas

This region has seven wilderness areas and nine state parks. For nature lovers, it’s a dream come true. These special places have amazing views, like lakes, waterfalls, and a swamp. You can get lost in the beauty and calm of these reserves.

Hiking Trails for All Skill Levels

Hikers will love the many trails here. It doesn’t matter if you’re new or have lots of experience, there’s a trail for you. Shawnee National Forest is a must-see, with its varied scenery and trails. Don’t miss the chance to climb at Jackson Falls and admire nature’s beauty.

Wildlife Watching Opportunities

For those who love wildlife, Southern Illinois is perfect. Watch out for white-tailed deer, birds of all kinds, and bald eagles. Carry binoculars for close-up views of nature’s creatures.

Other Outdoor Activities

There’s more to do here than just hiking and looking at wildlife. If you love adventure, try paddling at Cache River or Little Grassy Lake. Cyclists can have a blast on Tunnel Hill Trail and Great River Road. Discover new places and enjoy the stunning Southern Illinois scenery.

Top Hiking Destinations in Southern Illinois

scenic beauty

If you love the outdoors, head to Southern Illinois. It’s filled with beautiful scenery and exciting trails. This area has some of the best places to hike in the state.

Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is in Southern Illinois and perfect for hikers. You’ll see tall sandstone canyons and lovely waterfalls. It has many trails for different skill levels, great for families, and those who love adventure.

Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is near Starved Rock. This park is a hidden treasure with canyons and waterfalls, like the famous Cascade Falls. Walking its trails shows you amazing natural sights.

Shawnee National Forest

Want a wilderness adventure? Shawnee National Forest is the place. It has over 400 miles of trails. These paths take you through nature’s best, from bluffs to dense forests. The Garden of the Gods Trail is a gem with breathtaking views.

Other Scenic Hikes

Southern Illinois is full of beautiful places to hike. Don’t miss out on Burden Falls or the mystical Garden of the Gods. Giant City State Park and Little Grand Canyon are also great for nature lovers. Jackson Falls and Rim Rock Trail are more must-sees for anyone exploring this region.

Get ready for an amazing journey in Southern Illinois. Its beautiful scenery and diverse landscapes will astonish you. You’ll make memories that last forever.


Southern Illinois is a secret paradise for those who love nature. It has a lot to offer for outdoor lovers. You can find scenic beauty and many hiking trails there.

This region is known for its various landscapes. It has canyons, waterfalls, forests, and rivers. No matter your skill level, there’s something for you.

Places like Starved Rock State Park and Shawnee National Forest are popular. But, there are also hidden spots to discover. For example, Burden Falls and Giant City State Park offer unique escapes.

If you love challenging hikes or just a peaceful place, come to Southern Illinois. It’s a great spot to unwind and enjoy nature. Plan a visit and get ready for an adventure like no other.


What is “Real People, Real Stories, Real Outdoors”?

“Real People, Real Stories, Real Outdoors” is a video series by Illinois’s DCEO. It’s here to show off Illinois’s outdoor spots and its natural beauty. This includes special nature trails, hidden gems, famous landmarks, and cool places to stay.

How many state parks and recreation areas are there in Illinois?

Illinois has 70 state parks and areas for outdoor fun.

Where can I watch the video series?

You can watch the series on It will also be on the Illinois Office of Tourism’s social media to get you excited about exploring Illinois.

What outdoor adventures does Southern Illinois offer?

Southern Illinois has lots of outdoor fun like seven wilderness areas and nine state parks. You’ll find lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and even a swamp for adventures. Enjoy hiking, seeing wildlife, paddling, and biking there.

What are some popular hiking destinations in Southern Illinois?

Places like Starved Rock State Park, Shawnee National Forest, Burden Falls, and others are great for hiking. You’ll see unique natural beauty at each spot, making for special hiking trips.

Are there hiking trails for all skill levels in Southern Illinois?

Yes, in Southern Illinois, everyone can find a hiking trail they like. The region offers trails through canyons, past waterfalls, and by forests and rivers for all levels.

Why should I visit Southern Illinois for outdoor adventures?

Southern Illinois is perfect for those who love the outdoors. It has plenty of activities and beautiful places to explore. Destinations like Starved Rock, Matthiessen, and Shawnee attract nature lovers from everywhere.

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