Affordable Family Vacations in the Illinois Ozarks

There are plenty of hiking trails at all skill levels. Don’t be surprised to see deer on the roads and along trails. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson.

See the other side of the Ozarks in Southernmost Illinois. Start at Cave-In-Rock state park. You can spend the whole weekend in this State Park.

Enjoy rock climbing, hiking or a stroll through the forest. Check out the namesake cave at Cave-In-Rock. The cave has served as shelter for native Indians, fellow travelers, bandits and even pirates.

Cool down at Cave-In-Rock. A summer time bonus is the naturally cool temperatures in the Cave. Photo: Jeff Hobson.

Park rangers can provide details on fishing licenses and the rules and regulations for fishing and boating on the river.

Stay – The four duplex guesthouses or, eight suites, will accommodate four people. Comfortably furnished, each suite has private baths, an eating area and wet bar, and a spacious bedroom/living room.

The big selling point for me is the view. Each suite has a private patio/deck overlooking the Ohio River. Make this your home base for an Illinois Ozarks vacation.

One suite is handicapped accessible. The Lodge is open seasonally. Contact the Lodge directly at (618) 289-4545.

Eat – The full service restaurant features southern-style cooking and homemade desserts. Sunday dinners feature fried chicken, roast beef with all the trimmings, southern fried catfish, marinated chicken, shrimp, steaks and a full short order menu.

Hours are daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call (618) 289-4545 or write Cave-In-Rock Restaurant and Lodging, Cave-In-Rock, IL 62919. Did we mention the homemade desserts?

Camel Rock, is easy access and a short hike in the Garden Of The Gods. Photo: Jeff Hobson.

Play – Pounds Hallow. This might just be that old fashioned swimming hole or secluded fishing spot of your dreams.

  • The good ole swimming hole

Jump into the swimming hole at Pounds Hollow where there is a swimming beach. It is a beautiful wooded fishing and swimming area. Day-use only area offers swimming, picnicking, fishing, boating and hiking. Enjoy several lakeside picnic sites, and a large picnic shelter overlooking the beach.

Fish from the pier or use small carry in boats, with electric motors. Only electric motors are allowed. You can fish for bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish. Click for more details and maps.

Up on the ridge, above the lake, Pine Ridge Campground has 35 campsites, (some will accommodate up to 40-foot trailers.) Each campsite has a table, fire ring and lantern pole. Centralized water sources and vault toilets are in the camping area. A few campsites have electricity.

Pounds Hollow is just one of the 27 sites on the Shawnee National Forest OnCell Tour

Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas are an extension of the Illinois Ozarks. The mountains rise abruptly from the surrounding country and stretch for 70 miles in Illinois.

  • About the Illinois Ozarks – For a more active or peaceful (and less crowded) vacation, consider the Illinois Ozarks. The Shawnee National Forest covers the bulk of the region. Visit the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois.
  • About the Missouri Ozarks – If you are looking for musical entertainment, Branson is the place to go. With more than100 shows, Branson is truly the live music show capital of the world. Get more information.

More to do in Southernmost Illinois:

The ferry runs non stop during the day. It’s free, so if you’ve never been on a ferry boat this is a good opportunity. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

1. Cave-in-Rock Free Ferry to Kentucky Amish Country. Ride the only Illinois Ferry crossing the Ohio River and view the lifestyle of our Kentucky Amish neighbors. While you are in Marion, Kentucky visit Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum, home to an outstanding collection of minerals, gemstones, carvings, period journals, photographs, mining tools and more.

2. American Fluorite Museum. “Fluorspar” is the Illinois State Mineral. Learn about the history, production and uses. Hardin County was the largest fluorspar-producing area in the United States. The American Fluorite museum is located on the site of the Rosiclare Fluorspar and Mining Co., which was once the largest fluorspar mining company in the U.S. It features photographs, ore specimens, mining paraphernalia and colorful dioramas.

The peace and beauty of the Illinois state parks is unmatched. Bring your walking stick and camera.

Trip Tip: Take time to do a little digging. It’s fun and you can usually find a bit of fluorspar to take home as a keepsake..

Seasonal activities. Suggestions for Illinois Weekend Getaways – Wine trails and visits to several apple orchards, the peach festival and fall color tours.

For more information and vacation planning:
Illinois Ozarks
Southernmost Illinois
The Official Website Of The State of Illinois.