Garden of the Gods: Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

Our Illinois tour continues with a look a the Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest in extreme Southern Illinois.

More than 320 million years ago, the wind and rain patiently started to chisel away at large deposits of sedimentary rock located in what is now, Shawnee National Forest. Over the years, the elements have sculpted stunning, extraordinary rock formations.

There are 5.5 miles of hiking trails at this spot with many more trails nearby. I would rate the trails to the images shown in this article as easy for almost everyone but those in a wheelchair. The feature shot and the images below are a half-mile or less from the parking lot.

Feature Image Details

For the image, I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 28mm, for 1/13 of a second at ISO 250, f16.


  • This is an easy shot. 28mm is not extreme. Anyone can take this image with almost any camera.
  • You just have to be there at sunset on a sunny day. The location does not photograph well at other times. The hardest part is not having people in your images. This is a very popular spot, especially on weekends.
  • Best time: Very late October or early November.

Here are some more images from the same day.

I assure you these shots are as easy as they get. Nearly anyone can walk to this location and nearly any camera will do.

I recommend a tripod as always, but these shots could be taken without a tripod with proper technique.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Coming up next: Another destination in Southern Illinois.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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