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20 Best Outdoor Vacations for Firefighters

Tania Khadder

June 11, 2010

5. Hiking Through the Garden of Gods

Nestled within Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest, this wilderness area (and geological masterpiece) is alleged to be over 320 million years old. Come here to see the unusual rock formations — you’ll be amazed by some of the intricate designs.

There are two main hiking trails: the Observation Trail and the River-to-River Trail. The first is famous for its spectacular views of the local geology. The latter — and longer — path stretches 30 miles from the Ohio River, is equally scenic, and offers a few camping stops along the way (just $5 a night). Park entrance is free. Tip: Bring a compass and a map. Trails are marked by painted wooden signs, but it’s easy to miss one if you’re not paying attention.

Contact the local visitor’s bureau for information on camping, rock climbing and horseback riding at the site.