Guest Writer – Joshua Spengler – Autumn In The Shawnee National Forest


Shawnee National Forest Sunset

by  Josh Spengler – Find Us on Facebook @ Spengler Photography & Fine Arts

Wow where to start! This year the colors are amazing. Yellows, oranges, and red colors paint the Shawnee landscape. It is like someone took a big paint brush, and used the Shawnee as a canvas. Scenic overlooks like Alto Pass, Bald Knob, Rim Rock, and The Garden of the Gods are all bursting to the seams with fall beauty. In the cool mornings the deep ravines and hills fill with a misty fog creating a one of a kind picture only Mother Nature herself can provide.

Off the Beaten Path

Places that are off the beaten path are just as beautiful this time of year. Take One Horse Gap Lake for instance. On a calm morning the changing cypress trees offer up some amazing reflections off the waters around the lake. And if your here long enough you might catch a glimpse of the resident American Bald Eagles that call this area home. I know I have seen them there for the past three years soaring overhead. Another place full of watery reflections is Pounds Hollow Lake. It is here that the turning trees reflect off the water creating a moment for everyone to embrace.

Fall colors in the Shawnee Hills

The Lowlands

The Cache River area also provides another part of fall that you may not thing of. Believe it or not fall also has an effect on the swampy areas around Heron Pond. The Cypress trees of the swampy lagoons are turning brown and losing their needles in preparation for winter. This process offers up endless beauty that is seldom thought of during autumn. Why go to Florida when we have the swampy landscape right here?

The Bell

Deep in the sandstone gullies of Bell Smith Springs is also a place I recommend. The color of the trees mixed with the grayish tint of the sandstone formations is an all inspiring beauty that can’t be explained in words alone. And if you’re lucky enough to visit the area after a heavy rain, you will find flowing streams and endless puddles of reflections.


Take a Drive

Another place I love to explore really has no name other then the “Shawnee Backroads”.  Roads that are often traveled by some everyday and not really appreciated for what they offer. Have you ever traveled down a back country road only to stop and take in all the beauty the road offers? I sure do. Sometimes these places have just what one needs when out exploring.

Pack Up & Go

Autumn brings a sense of brief happiness to the Shawnee. Getting out and enjoying the fall foliage as the trees transfer into winter is something everyone should do. Also on those cool Southern Illinois nights enjoying a nice cup of hot apple cider, or a cool glass of wine by the campfire is also a must when visiting the Shawnee. The forest provides a vast array of endless beauty, and quiet moments. It is here within these places that Mother Nature provides endless opportunities for both personal and spiritual reflections.

To sum everything up this year in the Shawnee National Forest I really didn’t find a bad place to explore. Everywhere I traveled was full of Mother Nature’s handy work. For me as a photographer there really was a picture opportunity around every corner. It just was up to me to know when to click the shutter.

I encourage you to get out and explore the great Landscapes of the Shawnee, even if it is only exploring your favorite area. Because I truly believe that if you don’t do it soon, you might regret it down the road! Remember turn off them paved roads into unknown territories, because you never know what is right around the corner!


Josh Spengler – Spengler Photography & Fine Arts


Special Thanks

Just wanted to say Thanks Joshua Spengler for taking the time to share his passion of nature photography and the Shawnee Hills.  We hope to have him back soon to share his unique perspective on other areas of Southern Illinois.  Make sure to LIKE his Facebook Page at so you can keep up with his latest projects.   – Gary Marks

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