Shawnee National Forest Cabins: 11 Best Cabins in Southern Illinois

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by Kristin Young | Updated On: August 21, 2020

Photo of Garden of the Gods, Text Overlay, Cabins near all the best spots in Southern IL

If your family is a bunch of hiking enthusiasts or nature-loving adventurers, finding one of the best Shawnee National Forest cabins will make the ideal home base for exploring. With hundreds of acres of forest, rock sculptures, and a scattering of lakes and waterfalls, the forest offers a peaceful retreat from daily life. 

Cabins in the forest are as fun as camping, but offer conveniences that become especially valuable when traveling with kids. You get electricity, running water, hot showers, and even cable TV – all while surrounded by birds chirping, deer roaming, and trees swaying in the breeze.

As a former Saluki(that’s the mascot for SIU in Carbondale), I’ve spent plenty of time exploring, hiking, and wine tasting my way around all of Southern Illinois. Here’s our guide to the best Southern Illinois cabins near Shawnee National Forest.

Looking for more outdoor fun in the Midwest? Check out our Guide to Canoeing at Turkey Run State Park


MAP OF WINERIES, HIKING, AND CABINS IN SOUTHERN IL

All of these cabins will give you easy access to all of the wineries, hiking, and exploring that Southern Illinois has to offer.


GARDEN OF THE GODS, IL CABINS

A 1,300-acre natural wonder, the Garden of the Gods is a massive park full of sandstone sculptures that have taken years to form.

There’s fun here for the whole family, and plenty of space to relax and enjoy time together. The park holds weekly fun runs, daily nature walks, and other fun events throughout the year. 

Make sure you’ve packed your best hiking shoes because the trails in the park are amazing. There’s also rock-climbing for the more adventurous, as well as segway, bike, or jeep tours as well. 

Head to the Visitor Center when you arrive and grab a copy of a color map to help make your way around the park, and it’ll go great in a scrapbook for the kids. 

Click Here for to see all of our favorite Garden of the Gods Cabins.


Cottonwood Cabin

  • Beds: Queen bed in the bedroom, sofa bed in the living room
  • Baths: Half-bath with toilet and shower
  • Distance to Garden of the Gods: ± 10-minute drive
  • Amenities: WiFi, heating, cable TV, free parking, air-conditioning, outdoor campfire area, equipped kitchen and essentials 

Located just minutes away from Garden of the Gods, as well as nearby other popular hiking trails, Cottonwood cabin is a top option for a visit to Shawnee Forest. The loft area is a spacious yet cozy bedroom and the open-plan kitchen flows into the warm and inviting living room. 

The antique log cabin is set on a large resort. This offers all guests access to a catch-and-release pond, resident horses, and plenty of open space to enjoy. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Hickory Hollow

  • Beds: Queen bed in the bedroom, sofa bed in the living room
  • Baths: Full bath with large shower
  • Distance to Garden of the Gods: ± 10-minute drive
  • Amenities: WiFi, heating, cable TV, free parking, air-conditioning, outdoor campfire area, equipped kitchen and essentials 

Located on the same resort as Cottonwood Cabin, Hickory Hollow offers the same modern comforts inside, paired with stunning scenery outside. The Amish-built log cabin comfortably fits four people, with two in the upstairs loft bedroom and two on the sofa bed. 

The cabin is simply furnished but offers all you need for a good night’s sleep and healthy breakfast before heading out to explore. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Twin Oaks

  • Beds: Two queen beds in the bedroom, sofa bed in the living room
  • Baths: One full bathroom with shower and bathtub
  • Distance to Garden of the Gods: ± 10-minute drive
  • Amenities: WiFi, fireplace, cable TV, free parking, air-conditioning, outdoor campfire area, equipped kitchen and essentials 

A neighbor of both Cottonwood and Hickory Hollow, Twin Oaks is a quaint cabin that sits underneath two ±200-year-old oak trees. Everything about this cabin is rustic, from the porch to the fireplace, and even the clawfoot tub in the bathroom. 

The resort offers plenty of space to walk, run, and enjoy. The cabin has an outdoor grill and campfire area as well, so dinners can be enjoyed under the evening sky. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Black Ridge Cabin LLC

  • Beds: Queen bed in the master bedroom, queen and bunk beds in the second bedroom – with spare air mattress
  • Baths: One full bathroom
  • Distance to Garden of the Gods: ±17-minute drive
  • Amenities: Air-conditioning, heating, gas fireplace, full kitchen and utensils, free parking, family games, laundry room, bedding and essentials 

If you’re a larger family, Black Ridge Cabin can easily accommodate you for a fabulous getaway. The large space can sleep up to 8 guests and offers a spacious master bedroom. Garden of the Gods is a short drive away but there’s also plenty of hiking and horse riding space near the cabin. 

The kitchen is perfect for big family breakfasts and the outdoor patio welcomes summer evening barbeques after exciting days out. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


SHAWNEE HILLS WINE TRAIL CABINS

As the first-ever wine trail in the state of Illinois, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is home to a number of top-class wineries surrounding Shawnee National Forest. This is a great place to plan a fun-packed itinerary around Shawnee Forest.

Take the kids on a zip line canopy tour, go biking through tunnels, and enjoy picnics outdoors, surrounded by the wildlife and vegetation. Whether you do the whole wine trail or just pick a few of your favorite wineries, this is a must-do while in Shawnee Forest.

There are wine pairing weekends happening often, as well as occasional events throughout the year. For hiking, water sports, and plenty of wine, this is a fantastic family adventure. Before you go, download the wine trail map and plan your trip accordingly.

Click Here for all of our favorite Cabins near the wine trail.


The Refuge Bungalow

  • Beds: Double bed and two sets of bunk beds in the one bedroom
  • Baths: One bathroom
  • Nearest wineries on Shawnee Hills Wine Trail: Honker Hill Winery, Blue Sky Vineyard, Feather Hills Vineyard
  • Amenities: Indoor gas fireplace, outdoor fire pit, wall-mounted heating/cooling system, kitchen with cooking basics and hotplate/griddle to cook, children’s books and toys, 

Situated near Little Grassy Lake and a short drive from some of the top wineries on the Shawnee Wine Trail, this bungalow is a true refuge for all. The cabin has enough space to accommodate a small family and is both child and pet friendly. 

Enjoy campfires outside, and sip on coffee as you watch wild deer and raccoons scamper across the backyard. Set off hiking in the forest, visit Giant City State Park, or simply enjoy the friendly but tranquil neighborhood after a wine-filled day. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Bald Knob Cabin

  • Beds: One king bed
  • Baths: One bathroom 
  • Nearest wineries on Shawnee Hills Wine Trail: Alto Vineyards, Hedman Vineyards, Von Jakob Vineyard
  • Amenities: Air-conditioning, heating, equipped kitchen with stove and oven  

This studio-style cabin is more suited to couples looking for a romantic night away. It sleeps a maximum of two guests and is without WiFi or a TV, prompting you to switch off and unwind. Bald Knob Cabin is spacious, clean, and offers lots of privacy.

The cabin overlooks a tiny lake and fields of green, with a forested area just behind. It’s a short distance from the Bald Knob Cross and a short drive from Hedman Vineyards and Alto Vineyards. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


The Loft

  • Beds: Three bedrooms with one queen bed, king bed, double bed, as well as two air mattresses
  • Baths: Two bathrooms
  • Distance to Shawnee wine trails: Pomona Winery, Hickory Ridge
  • Amenities: WiFi, landline phone (spotty cell phone service), fire pit, air-conditioning, heating, equipped modern kitchen, fireplace, toddler gear, room-darkening shades, free parking, all bedding and essentials

Gather the grandparents and other family members to enjoy this 10-sleeper cabin set on a 70-acre organic farm. The kids will have a blast in the yard while the adults enjoy the modern kitchen and the outdoor fire pit.

The cabin comes equipped with toddler gear, a large 4K HDTV, and even has oils and spices ready in the kitchen. There’s a loft space above the kitchen where kids can play indoors, and the indoor fireplace pairs well with a nighttime glass of wine. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Ma’s Cabin

  • Beds: Queen bed in the bedroom, sofa bed in the living room
  • Baths: One bathroom
  • Nearest wineries on Shawnee Hills Wine Trail: Alto Vineyards, Hedman Vineyards, Von Jakob Vineyard
  • Amenities: Ethernet connection, WiFi, equipped kitchen, parking, heating, air-conditioning, TV, washer and dryer

Secluded and homely, Ma’s Cabin is set right in the heart of Shawnee’s wine trail. Sleeping four guests on two beds, the cabin is the perfect place to stay while exploring the wine trails.

Clean, quaint, and cute as a button, Ma’s Cabin provides a central yet tranquil place to stay while visiting Shawnee. The living room has a comfy sofa and large TV while the back porch is the perfect setting for breakfast overlooking the forest. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


GIANT CITY STATE PARK CABINS

Attracting around 1.5 million visitors annually, Giant City State Park gets its name from the towering rock formations that are scattered throughout the area. The park has a natural beauty that is enjoyed by all ages. 

There is horseback riding, archery, and even rock climbing on offer in the park. There are also a few ponds where you can take out your fishing rods or simply go boating. The hiking trails are scenic and there are several to choose from. 

The Visitor’s Center offers an audio/visual room that plays a 10-minute film about the park, an exhibit hall, and a Discovery Corner especially for children. 

Click here to see our favorite cabins near Giant City State Park.


Giant City Lodge

  • Beds: Two beds per cabin
  • Baths: One private bath per cabin
  • Distance to Giant City State Park: ±5-minute drive / ±30-minute hike
  • Amenities: WiFi in public spaces, free parking, coffee station, shared outdoor pool, heating, air-conditioning and a coffee maker

You won’t get much closer to the state park than this. The Giant City Lodge has a number of cabins available for guests, each able to accommodate 4 – 5 people. The lodge has an onsite restaurant where you can grab your meals, as well as a pool, gift shop, and observation deck.

Each cabin has its own private bathroom and two comfy beds. They are self-catering but there isn’t much of a kitchen, although the coffee station is perfect for early mornings. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Hillside Haven Oak Tree Cabin (#4)

  • Beds: Four beds in three bedrooms
  • Baths: Four bathrooms
  • Distance to Giant City State Park: ±7-minute drive
  • Amenities: Air-conditioning, heating, cable TV, free parking, equipped kitchen with cooking basics, coffee maker, linens and essentials

Rustic and charming outside and modern inside, the Hillside Haven Cabins in Shawnee National Forest are all inviting and accommodating. Oak Tree Cabin is the fourth cabin at Hillside Haven and is a spectacular choice if you’re wanting to be near Giant City State Park. 

The three bedrooms can sleep up to six guests collectively, and each room has its own private bathroom. There’s also a spare bathroom so no lines outside the door in the mornings. You’ll have all of your home comforts in the cabin, with an abundance of nature and fresh air surrounding you. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


Makanda Cabin

  • Beds: Queen bed in the master bedroom, two single beds in the second bedroom
  • Baths: Two bathrooms
  • Distance to Giant City State Park: ±25-minute drive
  • Amenities: Indoor fireplace, air-conditioning, heating, laundry room, parking and full kitchen including dishwasher

This large, yet homey cabin is ideal for a family looking to escape into nature for a few days. It has two bedrooms that can sleep a total of four guests and combines modern comforts with rustic charm.

The enclosed back porch is the perfect spot for family reading or coffee in the morning. Outside, there’s a campfire spot and wrap-around porch. The cabin is located near vineyards and lakes, as well being a short drive from Giant City State Park. 

Click here to check the latest prices and availability.


ENJOY SHAWNEE FOREST CABINS FOR YOURSELF

There is no better way to explore Southern Illinois than with one of these Shawnee National Forest cabin rentals. You can take your pick from quaint, authentic log cabins to upscale, renovated cottages. 

Regardless of the cabin, you’re bound to be happily surrounded by acres of forested landscape and a wealth of wildlife. A trip to Shawnee Forest, Illinois is one that the entire family can enjoy, and is sure to be remembered for years to come.

Looking For More US Travel Inspiration? Check out all of our US posts for plenty of outdoor family ideas!

About the Author: Kristin Young

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