I am on my way back from Garden of the Gods with Connor as I write this. If you have followed along for awhile, you probably recognize the name of this park from past posts. I have been wanting to visit since Connor and I moved to Chicago. I saw an advertisement for it on the side of a bus stop, and then I started seeing it on Instagram. It looked beautiful, so I knew I needed to go at some point.
Luckily for me, today was the day I got to go. Connor and I stayed in St. Louis on Friday night since it is a bit more lively than Southern Illinois. We drove to Garden of the Gods this morning after a big breakfast at Rooster on Grand. The park was roughly two hours from St. Louis and it rained the whole way there. Somehow the rain cleared up about half an hour after we got to the park.
We started our “hike” as the rain died down. I didn’t realize that the entire park was only a quarter mile trail (I definitely didn’t do any prior research) so I am not sure I can call it a true hike. Connor and I assumed we would cruise through the park, but we ended up spending about 1.5 hours at the park.
Basically the entire park is a paved trail with rock formations along the way. Each formation is a bit different from the others, and they all provide different views of the park/forest. We climbed up most of them. They were a little slick in some places because of the rain so I opted not to climb too much on some of them. I liked the third and fourth “lookout” points the best. I think they gave the best view of the park but also the other rock formations.
I was really happy with our time at the park. I guess the weather could have been a bit better, but the rain clearing up was good enough for me. It’s definitely a great place to camp and there are other areas throughout the Shawnee National Forest to explore. I am pretty sure Garden of the Gods is the main attraction, but I could be wrong on that.
Anyway, I would recommend making the trip. It is a beautiful park and really easy to navigate. I saw a ton of kids and families there too, so it would be a fun trip for anyone. From Chicago it is about 5 hours, but it is so nice being in nature, so I hope to make one more trip there sometime. I am thinking the fall would be a great time since the leaves will have changed colors!
What are your favorite parks to explore near you?