With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Carbondale is sure to delight visitors of all ages. From camping and horseback riding to fishing and rappelling, it's an outdoor lover's paradise. Visitors will marvel at the many hiking trails. Especially popular is the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the "Giant City Streets" - huge bluffs of sandstone formed 12,000 years ago.
Nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, Giant City State Park was named for the unique impressions made by its massive sandstone structures and a landscape like none other, with lush garments of fern, moss, flowering mints, hundreds of species of wild flowers and more than 75 varieties of towering trees.
The Giant City Visitor Center provides interpretive displays on the geology, plants, animals and history of the park, and regional tourism information.
Giant City is a popular weekend retreat because of its varied and well-kept campground facilities. There are 85 campsites in the Class A Campground which provides water, electricity, showers and sanitary facilities for tent and trailer camping. The shower building in the Class A campground is closed the day after the first shotgun deer season (weather dependant), re-opening April 1st. A separate Class A equestrian campground is located off the horse trail in the southwest corner of the park. For camping reservations at the Class A campground only, please use Reserve America.
A Class C camping area at the south end of the family campground offering 14 walk-in sites is available for those who prefer a more primitive setting. Outdoor privies, fire rings and access to showers are provided. The Red Cedar campground offers a campsite at the 5 mile point of the Red Cedar Trail. Pre-registration is required at the Visitors Center or with the campground host. A Youth Group camping area is available on a first-come, first-serve basis for organized groups with adult supervision. This area is not reservable. This campground is closed during shotgun deer season.
Fishing and Boating
Ponds are located throughout the park for bank fishing.
Exploration of the picturesque natural wonders of Giant City State Park can be enjoyed along the Post Oak, Devil’s Standtable, Giant City, Stonefort, Indian Creek, Trillium and Arrowwood trails. The Post Oak Trail has been designed for disabled visitors. The 12-mile Red Cedar Hiking Trail provides an invigorating challenge to the truly dedicated backpacker, and offers an overnight campsite at the halfway point.
For the equestrian, the park has two options: A 12 mile Equestrian Trail may be accessed, by those bringing their own horses, from the Equestrian Campground trailhead, located on the south end of the park. Horse owners may utilize the Class A Equestrian campground, from May 1 thru October 31. All 25 campsites have electricity, hitching posts, and access to water.
Hunting for some wildlife species is allowed on a controlled basis. Contact the site superintendent for details on season times and area rules. Registration rules are strictly enforced. For more information, please review the Hunter Fact Sheet.
The rustic beauty of the Giant City Lodge creates an atmosphere unparalleled in southern Illinois. Although the lodge has been expanded and remodeled, great care has been taken to preserve the multi-hued sandstone and white oak timbers used in the initial 1930s construction. Many original furnishings and decorations have been restored and are used throughout the lodge.
Three types of cabins are available to accommodate overnight guests. All offer forest views, unique features and have been fully restored. Twelve historic cabins are one-room units; 18 prairie cabins are two-room units; and four bluff cabins, the largest and most scenic, can conveniently house a family of six.
The Bald Knob dining room, with seating for 170, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and has a reputation for excellent food at a reasonable price. It is especially well-known for its family-style, home-fried chicken.
The lodge also features a gift shop, cocktail lounge, bar, and an outdoor swimming pool.
For lodge reservations, call (618) 457-4921, or write Giant City Lodge, 460 Giant City Lodge Road, Makanda, IL 62958. The Giant City Lodge is closed each year from early December to early February. Giant City Lodge
Metal detecting is allowed within Giant City State Park, however, please be certain to leave the site as you find it. We do not allow detecting around the Giant City Lodge and the use of shovels is not permitted.
Picnicking & Shelters
The park is filled with excellent day use picnic facilities and 5 reservable shelters which offer a scenic setting for family reunions, weddings and other large gatherings. Tables, water, fire grills and children’s playgrounds can be found throughout the facility.
Climbing and rappelling are permitted at the park in two locations. The areas of Devil's Standtable cliff and Shelter #1 bluff at the Makanda entrance are accessible to climbers, and ropes are permitted on these cliffs. Climbers should bring their own equipment and go directly to the bluff, no check-in is necessary. No permanent anchors allowed. All climbing activities at the park are conducted at your own risk. Cliffs are steep and sandstone can be slippery when wet. Venomous copperhead snakes, an Illinois protected species, are found on sunny ledges. Please use caution. Southern Illinois sandstone bluff plant comm unities are fragile, so tread lightly in these areas. Always carry out what you carry in!
A highlight of Giant City State Park is the Visitor Center, which provides interpretive displays on the geology, plants, and animals of the park. Enjoy 10 minute films about the park and the Civilian Conservation Corp in the audio-visual room. The visitor center also offers information about other tourist destinations in southern Illinois.