Giant City State Park

Just got back from a 3 night stay in Giant City State Park in Southern Illinois. Between the state park and the Shawnee National Forest and Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge (and and and) there is a ton of protected land around the southern tip of Illinois with many good size undeveloped lakes. It’s also a great area for hiking.

Our campsite

The park was not crowded

Cedar Lake

Devil’s Tabletop

Lots of great hiking trails. There are many natural caves and shelters; the area was occupied 10000 years ago and Europeans didn’t arrive until 1850.

Shawnee National Forest

Devil’s Kitchen Lake


I stopped at Giant City on my way home from the Spring Rendezvous. I hiked a good bit but didn’t think of it as a paddling destination. Thanks for sharing the pictures and making me aware of the paddling possibilities.

I went to school in Carbondale - fantastic outdoor recreation opportunities in that area. Cedar Lake was one of my favs. Supposedly the northernmost cypress swamps in the country are in that area too, also great for paddling.

Nice pics, thanks for sharing!

Thanks for mentioning the swamp, I heard about it and got some info and plan to check it out next time. I met my wife at SIU but that was long before my paddling days. I used to ride my bike to Cedar Lake and sometimes swim there so it was fascinating for me to paddle out of the one cove and finally see what’s around the corner in both directions.

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I remember a similar trip we took to explore attraction parks in the area. Amidst the roller coasters and thrill rides, we discovered the natural beauty surrounding them. It’s amazing how these parks can be gateways to untouched landscapes and outdoor adventures.

Southern Illinois seems like a gem for both outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking the excitement of attraction parks. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Thanks for your post about the Southern ILL parks. The area looked great the couple times I’ve driven through but never thought of it as a desination. It’s an easier and a little shorter drive than going to the Buffalo River or southern MO rivers so need to plan a trip.

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I recommend that you visit the Lower Cache River if you are in the area. It’s about 30 minutes due south of Giant City SP. It’s the northernmost cypress swamp…not a huge area but very, very nice in my opinion.


It is all more or less on my way west from wv. Thus I’ve stopped at garden of the gods, giant city, and at Tom’s suggestion the lower Cache River. Well worth a day or two. Other stops sometimes include knobster state park in IN, Blue River and the Elkhorn in Ky. It is nice to be retired and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Thanks, will do!