The cold weather has me dreaming of spring and for me, spring means getting out into nature. We are fortunate that there are a number of wonderful places nearby to allow us to do just that and one of those is located in Southern Illinois.

Only a Short Drive from Evansville

Just a short drive from Evansville, Indiana you will find the Shawnee National Forest. It is a lush and beautiful landscape made up of several different types of eco-systems supporting all kinds of wildlife and flora.

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Nearly 300,000 Acres of Natural Land

Shawnee National Forest covers nearly 300,000 acres of land in the southern part of Illinois and includes forests, wetlands, waterfalls, canyons, massive rock formations, and more.

No Matter How You Enjoy The Outdoors, There's Something for Everyone

Whether you are into hiking, repelling and rock climbing, camping, or just enjoying a family day with the kids, the Shawnee National Forest offers something for everyone. The rich, lush land is home to countless species of birds, mammals, and fish, including a number of endangered species as well.

There Are Some Dangers

Because Shawnee National Forest is a wild and unincorporated area, there is the risk of encountering dangerous wildlife, including venomous snakes. A number of places that you may choose to explore within the forest may not have adequate cellular service and emergency response times can be delayed because of the remote nature of the land.

Be Smart and Go Prepared

It is always a good idea to make sure that you have appropriate trail maps and gear, and that you pack adequate food and water if you plan to hike any of the numerous trail systems throughout Shawnee National Forest.

It is also a good idea to check the USDA Forest Service website for any alerts or notices that you may need to be aware of before you visit.

Shawnee National Forest is Truly Breathtaking

If you would like to get a sneak peek at some of the beauty you could encounter when you visit Shawnee National Forest, or if you prefer to view nature from the safety of your screen, keep scrolling to see 57 Beautiful Pictures of Shawnee National Forest.

[Source: fs.USDA.gov and with special thanks to the Shawnee National Forest Facebook Group]

Beautiful Nature Photos from Shawnee National Forest Will Make You Want to Visit Southern Illinois

Take a virtual hike through the area between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers known as the Shawnee National Forest located in Southern Illinois with these stunning photos featuring Garden of the Gods, Tunnel Hill, Giant City Park, Cave in Rock, and more.

See Frost Flower Photos from Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois

This natural phenomenon, known as "frost flowers" was photographed around Cedar Lake, near Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois by former biology teacher, Suzanne Asaturian.

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Illinois

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Illinois using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from realtor.com.

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Indiana

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Indiana using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from realtor.com.

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.