If I were to list my favorite places I’ve ever visited my life, a place called Garden of the Gods would make my top 5. As a kid, my parents would often take us on weekend trips in the fall to Giant City Lodge in Makanda, IL. It’s there we would stay in rustic cabins nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, eat a family-style chicken dinner at “The Lodge” and then jump in the car to walk the Observation Trail at Garden of the Gods. I don’t know if I could ever begin to accurately describe this place, it’s just too beautiful for words.
Beyond the beauty, it can be a very dangerous place too. The cliffs are as high up as 100 feet with no barrier between you and that quick fall to the forest below. It’s certainly not the best place to take rambunctious 2 and 4 year old toddlers. But we did. And I paid for it dearly. Instead of getting to take in all the beauty, I found myself in mommy panic mode holding onto my children with a death grip. While I may have been a tad overprotective and a little anxiety ridden, I’m glad I went. I got to share one of my most favorite places on Earth with children.
Just look at this view …
Go ahead mom, slide on your butt down this rock 20 feet to the ground, it’ll be fun! Ha!
Mattison doing the same crazy rock hopping and climbing that I did at his age.
If you’re traveling in our through southern Illinois, this is one place you’ll definitely want to make a stop. The land and beauty there is nothing like what you’d experience in the flat, farm lands of central Illinois where I’ve spent most of my life.