Parks & Outdoor Recreation

When it comes to diverse things to see and do, Carbondale brings its A-game. The Shawnee National Forest is Mother Earth's 280,000-acre playground, offering breathtaking beauty and activity for nature lovers of all shapes and sizes. In turn, Giant City State Park attracts naturalists, adrenaline junkies, and outdoorsy types of all ages. And, Cedar Lake has been deemed one of the "Best Lakes in All 50 States." 

Shawnee National Forest

Illinois’ largest expanse of wooded land, the Shawnee National Forest, is located in the heart of Southern Illinois. Its 280,000 acres are a major attraction for outdoor lovers, offering the following:

  • Archaeological sites
  • Bicycling
  • Drives along the National Scenic Byways
  • Swimming
  • Waterfalls
  • Wilderness trails

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge's 44,000 acres of land and water contain a wide diversity of flora and fauna and provide significant resting areas for migratory birds along the Mississippi Flyway. The following are available:

  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Environmental education
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife observation

Giant City State Park

Giant City State Park offers breathtaking sandstone bluffs, many wilderness trails, hundreds of species of wildflowers, and the rustic Giant City Lodge, a popular lodging and dining stop. Recreation in the park includes:

  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Rappelling