Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock-Pounds Hollow Recreational area are two must see locations on the eastern side of the Shawnee National Forest of Southern Illinois.


Now open, to enhance the visitor’s experience, is the Garden of the Gods Outpost right


Garden of the Gods souveniers

at the entrance of Garden of the Gods Road on Karbers Ridge Road. Open from 10AM to 8PM Wed-Sun, and 1PM to 8PM Mon & Tues, the Outpost is ready to serve you ice cream and to make your visit to Garden of the God’s in the Shawnee National Forest an extra special one!   The Outpost offers souvenirs, including shirts, hats, mugs, shot glasses and postcards as well as a variety of snacks and soft drinks to quench your thirst after a day of hiking to spectacular views.


Located right across the street is Shawnee Forest Country’s own sasquatch.   You won’t want to miss getting a photo with ‘Sassy’!


Sassy the sasquatch loves visitors! 


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Wine & Food Pairing weekend -Nov. 4-5, 2017

All 11 wineries of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail have paired up to create three wonderful weekends of savory wine and food pairings.  We invite you to join us for a progressive tasting along the trail and enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of our wines paired with delicious samples.  Autumn Inspirations – November 4-5, 2017

Celebrate the bountiful fall harvest with seasonally inspired dishes during a progressive tasting along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.  Our member wineries have created savory autumn inspired dishes and paired them with their award-winning wines to enhance the flavors of both the wine and the food.  This is a fun way to showcase how wine plays the perfect supporting role to our everyday meals.

How it Works: Pre-purchase your ticket online and select your starting point.  The first winery that you visit will give you a souvenir wine glass and your tasting ticket. Bring your ticket to each location along the trail to enjoy your pairings. Leave your completed/stamped tasting ticket at the last winery visited to be entered for a chance to win a great prize from one of our associate members.   Ticket Information:  $35.00 per person through October 29, 2017.

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Pumpkin Town depicts Dr. Seuss!

The Pumpkin People are coming to visit Clyde L. Choate Mental Health and Development Center in Anna, IL Oct. 13-22, 2017


The trail of pumpkin people will depict various scenes from Dr. Seuss favorite stories.    Using approximately 110 pumpkins from St Mary’s Pumpkin Patch, 95 bales of straw donated by Stegle Plumbing and 55 mums from Choate Greenhouse, it seems the Pumpkin People cast a spell and the campus dons a new look.  The smiles and laughter of children and adults alike shower the campus with joy as they explore the displays and make pumpkin people friends.  A continuous line of cars parade through the grounds, bringing thousands of visitors to witness the creativity and ingenuity of the displays.

You can also park your car, and enjoy a walk around the grounds in the nice fall  weather! IMG_2182

Choate Mental Health and Development Center is located at 1000 N. Main St in Anna.


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Take a Snake Walk!

Each October, The Shawnee National Forest temporarily closes LaRue Road #345 (also known as the Snake Road) between SNF Color Logomile post 3.0 and mile post 5.8. This section of the road will remain closed until Oct. 30, 2017. The road is closed seasonally for the protection of migrating snakes and amphibians as they make the seasonal journey from their winter hibernation areas to their summer swamp habitats. Some of these species have been identified as threatened and endangered by both the state of Illinois and the U.S. Forest Service. By closing the road added protection is provided to help ensure the reptile’s safe crossing during this critical time of migration.

ScottBallardHiking_10-2016On October 7th 2017, Shawnee Friends hosts the Snake Walk with IDNR Herpetologist Scott Ballard on the world-famous Snake Road on the Shawnee National Forest. Join us on this leisurely walk to view snakes and other critters along the bluffs and swamps.

We will meet at the Winter’s Pond parking area. Link to map.

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Sept. 30 Guided Tour


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Eclipse App that Works Without an Internet Connection

Authorities and service providers are preparing visitors and residents for possible disruptions to internet and cellphone service during eclipse weekend.

SI Eclipse Image 2 A local app development firm, in conjunction with SIU’s Research Park, has developed a tool for visitors that doesn’t require an internet connection to use.

Packer Labs, a company founded by local developer Jeremy Packer, will launch the SI Eclipse app before visitors begin arriving the Thursday of the eclipse.

The app, Packer says, is a useful tool for visitors that will provide information about events, businesses, and services in the region. Additionally, Packer says they will be able to communicate with visitors via push notifications, something he says he is not aware of in other tools available to visitors.

“When cellphone reception is available, which is hopefully all or most of the time, we’ll utilize the app to push notifications to visitors with general information or emergency announcements. If cellphone connections fail during eclipse weekend we won’t be able to send out notifications, but people will still be able to use the map and information provided through the offline capabilities we’ve created.”

Packer, who operates his firm out of the Dunn-Richmond Center at SIU’s Research Park, says his firm created this app for free to contribute their part to the massive event that has seen global attention drawn to his Southern Illinois home.

“We developed this app for free and we’re inviting businesses to get listed for free. It’s meaningful that we develop this app and get it into the hands of visitors so that they have all of the information they need, with or without cellphone service.”

Packer has been connecting with other organizations in a final push to ensure that the app will see distribution to the thousands of visitors expected to in our region.

“We want to be a supplemental resource for Carbondale, SIU, and tourism throughout SI Eclipse Jeremy Showcase Image 1the region. Each organization has their own primary tool, like We don’t want to take away from that. We want to add to it and make sure that we take care of visitors as best we can.”

Packer plans to have over 100 events and 300 plus local points of interests available on the app, including local businesses, medical and emergency service providers, and temporary installments such as hydration stations.

Businesses or organizations who would to like ensure that they’re listed on the app can submit their contact information to for inclusion in the app.

Visitors and residents can download the app starting Monday, August 14th.

For questions about the app you can contact SI Eclipse via Facebook at, or email them at

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Moon Shadows – Eclipse exhibit

anthill gallery will be featuring MOON SHADOWS, a group artist exhibition concurrent with the Total Solar Eclipse from Wednesday, August 2 through Sunday, September 10, 2017 at anthill gallery and The Yellow Moon Cafe in Cobden.


The all-media MOON SHADOWS exhibition will feature Total Eclipse and Celestial theme-related artwork by anthill gallery artists.  This juried exhibition will be in both anthill gallery and the Yellow Moon Cafe’s Luna Gallery from Wednesday, August 2 through Sunday, September 10, 2017.

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