Shawnee National Forest was established in 1933. The land it occupies was once productive and settled farmland, but erosion and unsustainable 19th-century farming practices led farming to become less viable. In the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration established the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to use unemployed young men to restore environmentally degraded areas such as Southern Illinois. The plan for the forest was that it would reverse environmental damage and bring in tourist dollars to the economically depressed surrounding area.
Flora and fauna
The forest is at the convergence of several ecological regions, so the wildlife is quite diverse.
During the Illinoisan Stage (between 352,000 to 132,000 years ago), the Laurentide ice sheet covered up to 85 percent of Illinois. The southern area of this ice sheet was located in what is now the Shawnee National Forest. Because of this, there are tons of interesting and spectacular bluffs and overlooks located throughout the entire park. The geologic processes that formed the landscape are partially responsible for the presence of important mineral resources, including some of national significance.
Fees and permits
There are no fees to enter the Shawnee National Forest.
The Garden of the Gods Recreation Area has a 1/4 mile long trail that winds through a collection of rock formations perched on a Cliff.
Trail End Restaurant at Double M Campground, 5320 Thacker Hollow Rd, Junction.
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
- Alto Vineyards, ☏ , Inquiry@altovineyards.net. April-November: M-Th 10AM - 5PM, F Sa 10AM - 6PM, Su noon-5PM. December-March: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM.
- Blue Sky Vineyard, ☏ . Open all year: M-Th 10AM-6:30PM, F 10AM-sunset, Sa 10AM-7:30PM, Su noon-7PM.
- Hedman Vineyard, ☏ , email@example.com. Open April-December: M Tu closed, W Th 10AM-5PM, F Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-5PM. For January-March please consult vineyard website.
- Hickory Ridge Vineyard, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Winter hours: F Su noon-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM; spring, summer & fall: W-Su noon-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM.
- Honker Hill Winery, ☏ . F-Su noon-6PM.
- Kite Hill Vineyards, ☏ . March-November: Su-Th noon-5PM, F noon-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM; December-February: Sa Su noon-5PM.
- Feather Hills Vineyard and Winery, ☏ , email@example.com. April-December: M Tu closed, W-F noon-5PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM; January-March: Sa Su noon-5PM.
- Owl Creek Vineyard. March-December: M-Th noon-5PM, F noon-6PM, Sa 10AM - 6PM, Su noon-6PM; January-February: F noon-5PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM, M-Th by chance.
- Pomona Winery, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. April-November: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM; December-March: Th-Sa 10AM - 5PM, Su noon-5PM, M-W by appointment only.
- Rustle Hill Vineyard, ☏ , email@example.com. M-Th 11AM-6PM, F Sa 10AM-9PM, Su noon-9PM.
- StarView Vineyards, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. May - October: M-F noon-5PM, Sa 10AM - 7PM, Su noon-7PM; November- April: Su-F noon-5PM, Sa noon-6PM.
- Von Jakob Vineyards, ☏ , email@example.com. Summer hours: M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-7PM. Winter hours: M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM.
There are 7 campground areas in the national forest with rates from $10 to $36.
Primitive camping is allowed year round with no fees.
Like much of the South, in which extreme Southern Illinois resembles in some ways, there is the risk of running into a few different species of poisonous snakes: cottonmouths (water moccasins), copperheads, and timber rattlers. Be vigilant and use common sense when hiking; some parks may well have more of a population or frequency of encounters then others. In fact, a portion of the National Forest is closed off each year to allow for the ritual snake migrations that take place there (protecting you and the snakes from harassment). Ticks, which can carry a multitude of diseases including Lyme's Disease, are also very common in the warmer months.