About in the Bottoms | Grand Tower, Illinois

Lindsay Stockhecke | Deliciously Ordinary


With the earliest settlers being river pirates and legends of hauntings, you can feel the history of Grand Tower as you pull into town. As Devil’s Backbone (a half-mile strip of limestone that spans the eastern shore of the Mississippi River) stands behind you and the 100-foot-tall Tower Rock across the banks, it is a town that transports you to slower days. Captivated by any place that takes you away for a while, Grand Tower was the day outing I didn’t know I needed and started off with a pizza run to the always enjoyable Martels Pizza. A twenty or so minute drive southwest of Murphysboro Mainstreet, the scenic drive is half the fun. Devil’s Backbone Park offers RV camping, playgrounds, picnic facilities and a short walk down river leads to a pavilion and lookout, a stop marked by the Lewis and Clark Connection. This stop also designates the end of the River to River Trail.

Next, we cruised ten or so minutes back north to Oakwood Bottoms Shawnee National Forest, which includes Turkey Bayou, Greentree Reservoir, Turkey Bayou Campground, and the Big Muddy Boat Launch. Several ‘foot traffic welcome’ signs lined the road along our drive and we ended up stopping to get out and walk around at the Greentree Reservoir. This area has multiple picnic tables, fishing, and trails for great waterfowl sightings as well as a .3-mile loop boardwalk through the bottoms. The swamp, bayou landscape is especially unique to this area and the loop through the wetlands is highly recommended.

From start to finish this outing took us around three hours and could easily be extended to include a full day of outdoor exploring. We were able to keep cell service the vast majority of our time but this is a remote area and while there is Cardinal Corner, a small gas station located in Grand Tower, the hours are limited so be sure to gas up and grab snacks before heading out!

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