Mysterious creature spotted near Garden of the Gods, Illinois

SassyIt’s not a deer. And it’s definitely not human. At seven feet tall, it’s safe to say it’s not like any creature ever spotted before in Shawnee National Forest. But while most mysterious creatures would have campers running for the safety of the nearest cabin, this one has them running for their cameras. And according to local entrepreneur Doug DeVore, that’s the point.

“It was actually my wife’s idea,” says DeVore, who — together with his wife Carrie — owns Shawnee Forest Cabins, a popular place to stay for hunters, hikers and others drawn to the natural beauty of Southern Illinois. “She came across a small Big Foot statue for sale awhile back. The kids loved it, and she said, ‘we need one of these at the cabins.’” And with that, the idea for Sassy was born.

Weighing in at 2,600 pounds, the towering Big Foot statue is the latest in a long line of fun roadside attractions that have dotted America’s highways since the 1950s. From the “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” popularized by Weird Al Yankovic to the famous Superman statue in nearby Metropolis, Illinois, they’ve long provided a welcome place for traveling families to stretch their legs and grab a quick photo.

Located at the corner of Garden of the Gods and Karbers Ridge roads just outside of Herod, Illinois, Sassy points the way to one of the most popular hikes in the Shawnee National Forest. There’s a small parking lot and information center for travelers. And if you need overnight accommodations, the DeVores will be more than glad to hook you up with one of eight cabins complete with wi-fi, a hot tub and DirectTV, should you have a late night hankering for “Harry and the Hendersons.” With so much to see and do in the area, however, you might want to leave the remote in the drawer.

There’s nearby Camel Rock at Garden of the Gods, which will have a staring role on next year’s Illinois quarter. Visitors can also canoe, kayak or soar through the trees courtesy of the Shawnee Bluffs Zip Line Canopy Tour. Others may wish to visit the award-winning Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.  But if you see anything you can’t explain after hitting that particular trail, says DeVore, “That one’s on you.”

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