Southern Illinois--please help

Old Sep 5th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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Southern Illinois--please help

Although I have lived in Illinois all my life, I have never been to southern Illinois. DH and I are planning a three night vacation there in mid-October. Because it is about a three hour drive, we will have most of the first day there, even including the driving time. For the same reason, we will be able to stick around the area for a good portion of the last day before driving home. (The advantages of taking a close vacation, instead of an exhausting and stressful 16-20 hour travel day.) We are staying in the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Marion, Illinois. We are looking to enjoy beautiful scenery, rest and relaxation, and lots of hiking. I would like to share my ideas for our time down there and would love some suggestions on our plans. I haven't organized it by what day we will do what, but instead just a general idea of what we want to do, lumping close areas together. Hopefully that makes sense.

Garden of the Gods
Rim Rock
Cave-In-Rock state park

Burden Falls
Bell Smith Springs
Jackson Falls
Dixon Springs State Park

Cache River State Natural Area (Heron Pond)
Ferne Clyffe State Park
Giant City State Park

Little Grand Canyon
Lake Murphysboro State Park

Ideas, suggestions, comments? We aren't interested in shopping or anything like that. We will be driving a smaller vehicle, so there won't be any taking our car off a road to explore hidden waterfalls far off the beaten path.

One last note: I am recovering from a really bad ankle injury. While I have mostly healed and hope to be fully healed by mid-October, I'm thinking we will probably have to be extra careful (we always are, but even more so than usual) and probably go at a much slower pace. So please keep that in mind when offering suggestions.

I greatly appreciate everyone's assistance with this. We haven't taken a real vacation in so many years, and I am super excited about this. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Sep 6th, 2013, 03:59 AM
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Wow! I didn't realize Southern Illinois had so much to see! My DH and I went to SIU Carbondale, and we lived in that area for a couple of years. We loved it! We were busy with classes and didn't have time to explore much. I'm sorry we didn't get out more!! We did spend time in Giant City State Park though. Very nice!

My DH's mother was born and raised on Bald Knob (highest hill in S Ill) and so my DH spent time on the knob, visiting grandparents, during his childhood. A gorgeous view from the top!

All I can say is, Southern Illinois is a fantastic place. We would have stayed in that area after graduation, but there were no engineering jobs for DH at that time.

Do enjoy your time! I'm sure it will be scenic and relaxing.
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Old Sep 6th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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My DH also attended SIU-C many years ago and we loved southern Illinois. We have been to many of the places that you list--albeit many years ago. With fewer than 3 full days and if you want to hike each day, I suggest you choose 3 places you want to hike and do one each day. If you just want to see all the places you listed, there will not be much time for hiking.

Southern Illinois also has wineries and the Shawnee Wine Trail http://www.shawneewinetrail.com/ It is a beautiful drive going from winery to winery.
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Old Sep 7th, 2013, 10:26 AM
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Thanks for the responses. You have both been very helpful. I have narrowed things down a bit more. I am now considering the following:

Garden of the Gods
Rim Rock

Bell Smith Springs

Cache River State Natural Area (Heron Pond)
Ferne Clyffe State Park

Giant City State Park

Little Grand Canyon.

Because Rim Rock is just one trail, I was thinking it could be combined easily with the Garden of the Gods day? The only thing I really want to hike at Cache River State Natural Area is Heron Pond, so I don't think that will take that much time? I'm thinking that Bell Smith Springs and Giant City State Park might need a day for each to properly explore and hike the area. How much time do you think we need to hike Ferne Clyffe State Park? Really the only thing of interest there to us is the waterfall. I was thinking of combining Ferne Clyffe State Park day with Cache River (Heron Pond) and I would think we could have a nice day with those two, since there are fewer things we want to see at each of those places? As for Little Grand Canyon, is it worth seeing? It's kind of off by itself and there is nothing by it that we want to see, so I'm just not sure if it warrants a visit?

Any further suggestions will be much appreciated. I am still in the planning what to do stage. I think we could probably do all but one thing that is currently planned, which is why I was considering dropping Little Grand Canyon (or maybe adding another day to our vacation). Ideas? As always, thanks for your help!
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Old Oct 6th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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Our vacation is next week. Does anyone know if the government shutdown affects any of these places?

Also, I have narrowed things down even more. I am now considering the following:

Garden of the Gods
Rim Rock

Cache River State Natural Area (Heron Pond)
Ferne Clyffe State Park

Giant City State Park.

Because Rim Rock is just one trail, I was thinking it could be combined easily with the Garden of the Gods day? The only thing I really want to hike at Cache River State Natural Area is Heron Pond, so I don't think that will take that much time? I was thinking of combining Ferne Clyffe State Park day with Cache River (Heron Pond).

As always, thanks for your help!
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Old Oct 6th, 2013, 05:27 PM
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We used to live in Carbondale and last year were back for a church event. We stayed in a Giant City State Park cabin and with friends.

Yes, Little Egypt is very different than any other place in Illinois, Ozark landscape with lakes and hills instead of cornfields. It is after all the Ozarks. You've already IDed places to visit. This certainly includes hiking trails. Get some literature or check on line.

You could add to your list Lake Glendale and Pounds Hollow to your list. Favorite places for us. Also don't miss the rock formation at Garden of the Gods. Also apple orchard country is at Cobden and Makanda. Oh yes, a number of vineyards have been developed and there is a wine trail.

As to gov't shut down, this might be Shawnee Nat'l Forest but much is Illinois state owned not national. And anyway won't this all be resolved by October?
Bill in Boston
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Old Oct 6th, 2013, 05:40 PM
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Added info: www.stateparks.com/giant_city.html

http://www.shawneeforest.com/Hiking/...oftheGods.aspx

www.shawneewinetrail.com

http://cobdenil.com

http://southernillinois.com/print_wine_trail_maps
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