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Secluded Waterfalls in the Midwest

Jackson Hole Waterfall

Southern Illinois is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Midwest. Southern Illinois is the the perfect day trip from Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis. Rugged rock formations were created here due to a glacial retreat passing through Illinois an extremely long time ago when our continents were settling into their favorite spots on Earth. The waterfalls here in Southern Illinois are mostly nestled in parks within the Shawnee National Forest. This is the best Midwestern destination for finding hidden gems – like beautiful rushing waterfalls during our rainy season.

The best time to tour Southern Illinois’ waterfalls is from May until the end of June. Southern Illinois Vacation Rentals offer a luxurious stay to begin and end your journey through luscious green forests and crystal clear creeks on your way to shower in a gorgeous waterfall. Southern Illinois’ waterfalls are seldom crowded and very respected by the locals who visit them, so you’ll most likely be able to take some incredible photos to share with your friends and family.

Keep in mind to always be safe (rocks + water= falling accidents!) and that almost all Southern Illinois waterfalls are intermediate waterfalls which means they are best seen during the wet season (winter/spring) or after a heavy rain.  They will dry up during the dry season.

My top three favorite waterfalls in Southern Illinois are all so breathtaking – I can’t wait to see your pictures of them!

1. Big Rocky Hollow Trail Waterfall

Easily our favorite waterfall.  A great short hike in Southern Illinois’ Fern Clyffe State Park that’s always a hit. The trail itself is easy to walk on thanks to the crushed gravel pathway leading to this 100-foot tall intermittent waterfall. The Big Rocky Hollow Trail is lined with massive boulders, a meandering stream, and a canyon. It is our family tradition to take a walk to this waterfall Christmas Day.  There is never a bad time to visit!

2. Bork Waterfall

Bork Waterfall is a secluded stunning twin waterfall that flows into a swimming hole. This showstopper isn’t easy to get to though. The road to get to Bork Falls is commonly washed out and very steep.  Additionally, you drive over the rock bed top of the falls to park and then descend on the trail to the base.  I highly recommend 4-wheel drive or at least a high-sitting vehicle.  (I last drove it in my Lincoln MKZ and it took a few hours before the color returned to my face.)  Possibly with a regular car, but not recommended. This makes for the perfect adventure for outdoorsmen who love a good challenge with a huge payoff.

3. Jackson Falls

A Southern Illinoisan’s favorite – Jackson Falls is our best kept secret. For a long time, even the most savvy of us Southern Illinoisans couldn’t find Jackson Falls. Growing up, it was a big deal to find someone who would take you there to enjoy this special waterfall and its pretty blue waters. Jackson Falls is a great place to make memories with your friends and family to keep this longstanding tradition going of appreciating this waterfall. The trails are not for the faint at heart, but we all know them as beyond worth the hike for the instagrammable scenery.

Where to stay:


Solo travelers, couples, and small families traveling to Southern Illinois will love The Purple Door Cabin, The Teal Door Cabin, The Yellow Door Cabin, and The Couple’s Retreat (hot tub!). Large families and people seeking solitude in a spacious environment should consider Oasis at Lake of Egypt, Shades of Sun, Shades of Summer, and Lakeview Landing. View our full property list to find the perfect spot for your stay.

Safe Travels!


  • May 24, 2022

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