Southern Illinois is known for its beautiful rolling hills, dense forests, and abundant wildlife.
The area is home to several state parks and natural reserves, including the Shawnee National Forest and Giant City State Park, which offer a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing.
About the Area
The region is rich in history, with many sites related to the Civil War, including the Vicksburg National Military Park, located in the southern part of the state.
Additionally, southern Illinois is home to several charming small towns and cities, such as Sandoval and Marion, which offer a glimpse into the region’s past and a taste of its local culture.
The area’s economy is largely based on agriculture, mining, and manufacturing, but also has a growing education and healthcare system.
Top Waterfalls to Visit in Southern Illinois
Southern Illinois is a nature lover’s dream.
Whether you’re staying at Centralia, Mount Vernon, or Carbondale, you can plan excursions into the natural landscape of Illinois to enjoy its mesmerizing waterfalls.
Here are just a few of the most notable ones:
Located in the Shawnee National Forest, Cedar Falls is a 30-foot waterfall that is easily accessible via a short hike from the parking area.
The falls are especially beautiful in the spring when the water flow is at its highest.
Ferne Clyffe Falls
These falls, also located in the Shawnee National Forest, are a series of cascades that drop a total of over 100 feet.
The falls can be reached via a moderate hike through the forest, and there are several overlooks along the way that offer stunning views of the cascades.
Little Grand Canyon
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This natural wonder, located near the town of Makanda, is home to several waterfalls that flow into a deep ravine.
The area can be explored via a network of trails, and there are several scenic overlooks throughout the site that offer views of the falls and the surrounding landscape.
Located in Pope County, Burden Falls is a series of cascades that drop a total of 70 feet.
The falls can be reached via a moderately testing hike through the woodlands, and there are several overlooks along the way from which you can view the cascades and the encompassing scenery.
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Jackson Falls is a small, picturesque town located in the heart of Illinois.
It is known for its beautiful natural surroundings, including the stunning Jackson Falls, which is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
The falls are located in a lush, green forest and are made up of several cascading waterfalls that flow into a clear, blue pool below.
Visitors can take a hike through the forest to view the falls up close, or simply sit and relax on one of the many benches located throughout the area.
In addition to the falls, Jackson Falls is also home to a number of charming restaurants, shops, and bed and breakfasts, making it a great place to spend a weekend getaway.
Natural Bridge Waterfall
The Natural Bridge Waterfall is a beautiful natural feature located in Illinois.
It is situated in a densely wooded area, surrounded by tall trees and rich vegetation. The waterfall itself is quite impressive, with a tall drop and a wide, cascading flow.
Visitors can take a hike through the woods to view the scenic waterfall up close, or simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings from one of the many benches conveniently situated on the site.
The Natural Bridge Waterfall is a popular spot for photography and picnics and is a must-see for anyone visiting the Illinois area.
It is a true testament to the natural beauty that can be found in this region.
Garden of the Gods Waterfall
The Garden of the Gods waterfall is a breathtaking natural attraction located in the Garden of the Gods Wilderness in Illinois.
The waterfall is enveloped by towering sandstone cliffs and is fed by a clear, blue stream that flows through the area.
Visitors can take a hike through the wilderness to view the waterfall up close, or simply take in the stunning natural surroundings from one of the comfortable benches along the way.
The Garden of the Gods Waterfall will keep your smartphone busy as you snap awe-inspiring photos while having a picnic.
It should definitely be on your list of attractions to visit in the Illinois area and is a wonderful example of how extraordinary the local landscape can be.
Other Natural Attractions to Visit in Southern Illinois
Apart from its beautiful waterfalls, the region offers plenty of other opportunities to immerse yourself in natural beauty.
Shawnee National Forest
Shawnee National Forest is a sprawling 280,000-acre forest that offers miles of hiking trails, enchanting drives, and opportunities for camping and picnicking.
It’s also home to several natural landmarks such as the Garden of the Gods and Little Grand Canyon.
Giant City State Park
This park features towering sandstone bluffs, natural bridges, and a wide variety of flora and fauna.
The park offers many hiking trails, as well as opportunities for rock climbing, fishing, and horseback riding.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
This pretty spot is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the American white pelican, the wood duck, and the wild turkey.
Visitors can explore the refuge by foot, bicycle, or car, and can also enjoy fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Cave-in-Rock State Park
This park is home to the historic Cave-in-Rock, a 55-foot-wide, 150-foot-deep limestone cave that has been used by Native Americans, river pirates, and travelers for centuries.
The park offers tours of the cave, as well as hiking, boating, and fishing opportunities.
Big Muddy River
This dramatic waterway, also known, of course, as the Mississippi River, offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, and riverfront camping.
Visitors can also enjoy a variety of waterfowl and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Whether you’re visiting the southern part of Illinois or are willing to take a road trip from Chicago in the state’s forests, the Prairie State has a lot to offer, and you won’t regret taking the time to explore as much of it as you can.
Southern Illinois is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts who love immersing themselves in nature and feeling the cool spray of a cascade on their faces.
Make sure your hiking boots fit well and prepare plenty of storage on your smartphone for the eye-catching photos you’ll be taking.