Things To Do


Can this country side share the state with Chicago? Believe it; it’s Southern Illinois! Lush, green, and alive with hundreds of species, the unspoiled wilderness of the Shawnee National Forest is the true vision of natural Illinois. For over 400 square miles, we see what the beautiful and temperate heartland of the country would be like if Nature ruled the land: absolutely amazing.

shawnee-9825Shawnee National Forest Hiking Trails

When the whole country looked like Shawnee National Forest, people traveled by foot. There will never be a better way to take in the sights while feeling the living earth truly breathe under your feet. In Pope County, you will find Southern Illinois’ most sought-after hiking trails.

pope-county-tourism-ridingHorseback Riding the Shawnee National Forest

Your mount will enjoy a day on the Southern Illinois trails as much as you do. A hike for your horse is a leisurely ride for you or rent a horse for your ride through the Shawnee National Forest. Ride from River to River, or on one of our many other equestrian trails that traverse the woodland territory in Pope County and camp at a variety of horse friendly campsites and accommodations along the way.

Lakes & Rivers & Fishing

The many lakes streams and especially the Ohio River provides a variety of opportunities for fishing and recreation on the Southern Illinois waterways. Rent a boat or bring your own and go water skiing or tubing on the Ohio River. The Shawnee National Forest, Lake Glendale, and Dixon Springs State Park also offer a variety of fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing experiences that are fun for the whole family.


Rock Climbing in Southern Illinois

Where the glaciers stopped, thousands of years ago, is where the Shawnee National Forest begins. Here you can climb and rappel on hundreds of routes through beautiful formations bursting with Southern Illinois personality, a perfect challenge for any rock climbing enthusiast: beginner or advanced.

shawnee-9814Kayaking and Canoeing

In a kayak, you ride the currents through Southern Illinois like a largemouth bass or a river otter would: low in the water and one with nature. Read our guide to find the best places to glide down the expansive waterways that breathe life into the Shawnee National Forest.


Southern Illinois teams with an overabundance of the beautiful whitetail deer, turkey, pheasant, and a variety of other popular gaming species. The Shawnee National Forest produces plentiful harvests, and Pope County is in the heart of everything providing easy access to processing and beautiful cabins that outfit your hunt from start to finish.

Local Businesses

Enjoy the wonderful local shopping and eating experiences on Main Street in Golconda. Go antiquing, visit the Chocolate Factory, or enjoy a day exploring Farmer’s Markets in the countryside and taking in the scenery. Small businesses are an integral part of the American Spirit. Experience the eclectic small town charm that Southern Illinois has to offer through our various small business owners.

Calendar of Events


 A list of the many events held throughout the year in Pope County.

Ohio River Scenic Byway

 The Ohio River Scenic Byway showcases the very best of Southern Illinois— Its monumental history, natural and scenic splendor, heartland farming, and warm and welcoming people—all within the realm of one of the Nation’s greatest Rivers. A unique travel experience awaits you along the byway’s 188 miles.

Ohio River Scenic Byway, Inc. NFP PO Box 746 Rosiclare, IL 62982-0746