The best ways to enjoy Shawnee National Forest Cabins

The scenic 415 sq miles of the Shawnee National Forest lie in southern Illinois, between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. This expanse of wild country includes dense woodland, craggy hills, and several pristine lakes, making it a great destination for outdoor pursuits. There’s plenty of wildlife in the forest, including America’s national symbol, the bald eagle. Within the Shawnee National Forest are several hiking trails and recreation areas, including the Rim Rock National Recreation Trail, Jackson Falls, and the popular Garden of the Gods, where a trail winds through a series of strange sandstone rock formations.

What’s your idea of the perfect cabin?

Shawnee National Forest is great for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, hunting, and dozens of other activities. There’s also enough cabin variety to please anyone with a passion for the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a plush mountain hideaway, planning a romantic break for 2, or taking your dogs with you for some memorable adventures, you’re bound to find just the right cabin rental to serve as your base camp. You can decide if you want to be close to hiking trails, creeks and waterfalls, or rocky outcrops—or all of the above!

Cabins with hot tubs

No matter if you're planning a quiet romantic getaway or a gathering of friends, there are properties all around the Shawnee National Forest with their own private hot tubs. You can soak up the bubbles while still getting back to nature, with views of lakes and forest from the comfort of your tub. Some hot tubs are tucked away in the trees with total privacy, while others are set on large decks just outside your cabin door.

Pet-friendly cabins

There are plenty of pet-friendly cabins around the Shawnee National Forest where the owners welcome well-behaved dogs—accompanied by responsible humans, of course. The miles of country trails around here are perfect for long walks with Fido, and your cabin will often have its own stretch of garden or woodland where pets can roam at will, even if you stay within a stone’s throw of a local village like Herod, Karnak, or Anna.

Romantic cabins

If you want to be left alone to snuggle up in front of a roaring fire, the Shawnee National Forest has a great spread of cute and cozy cabins that are perfect for 2 people on a quiet getaway together. Take your pick from cabins that are hidden away in the forest with Native American decor, or modern rentals closer to town for those who would rather have a restaurant or 2 nearby.

Where to stay near the Shawnee National Forest

The Shawnee National Forest is a big area to explore, so it might be ideal to base yourselves near one of the attractive small towns around the forest. Some are great for history and sightseeing, others make great jump-off points for hiking and various outdoor sports. Whatever you’re planning on your vacation, it’s handy to have a few shops and amenities close to your cabin rental.

Harrisburg getaway cabins

If you’re arriving from the north, the gateway town of Harrisburg has everything you’ll need, whether you’re stocking up on supplies or heading out for dinner. Many forest visitors pass through this way, so the town is well set up with outdoors shops and guide information—especially if you’re heading to the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area, which is just a few miles down the road.

Carbondale vacation rentals

Carbondale’s bustling historic district is a fun place to visit, and it's convenient for exploring the Shawnee National Forest. This very walkable town is also where you'll find Southern Illinois University. From restaurants and bars to gift shops and groceries, Carbondale makes a handy vacation base, with several cabin rentals close by and some scenic hikes in the immediate area.

Cabins for rent in Makanda

Close to beautiful Cedar Lake, the quirky village of Makanda is home to a thriving artistic community. Here you’ll find a row of small galleries, craft shops, and cafes, which are joined by lots of little market stalls during the summer. Makanda is also close to the trails of Giant City State Park, a scenic area within the Shawnee National Forest. And don’t forget the local wines—there are several popular vineyards within a few miles of Makanda.