Scott Air Force Base, located in Illinois, is a place known for its military significance. However, it also happens to be situated amidst an area of remarkable natural beauty. For those stationed or living near the base, taking a day trip to explore the surrounding landscapes should be high on the bucket list.
One such destination that begs to be discovered is the breathtaking Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. Located around 75 miles south of Scott AFB, this area encompasses over 3,300 acres of serene wilderness. The highlight of the park is undoubtedly the stunning rock formations, which are a geological wonder. Millions of years of erosion have sculpted the rocks into awe-inspiring shapes, creating a landscape straight out of a fantasy novel. Hiking trails wind through the park, offering opportunities for those seeking adventure or just looking to connect with nature.
For those who want to delve into the history of the region, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is an unparalleled destination. Just a short drive from Scott AFB, this UNESCO World Heritage site preserves the remains of the largest pre-Columbian settlement in the Americas. The site includes ancient earthworks, ceremonial mounds, and a fascinating interpretive center that educates visitors about the rich history of the indigenous people who inhabited the area over a thousand years ago.
If you’re in search of water-based activities, look no further than Lake Carlyle. Only around 20 miles southeast of Scott AFB, this massive lake offers a range of recreational opportunities. Boating, fishing, and swimming are popular pursuits here, with several marinas and beaches dotted along the shoreline. Enjoy a leisurely picnic on the sandy shores or rent a kayak to explore the tranquil coves and inlets.
For bird enthusiasts, the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge is a haven waiting to be explored. Located just an hour and a half southwest of the base, this vast sanctuary spans over 9,000 acres and provides crucial habitat for a wide variety of bird species. From bald eagles soaring overhead to migratory waterfowls taking refuge, this refuge offers a chance to witness the wonders of avian life in their natural habitat.
No day trip near Scott AFB is complete without a visit to Pere Marquette State Park. Situated approximately 75 miles northwest of the base, this park is known for its stunning bluff-top views of the Illinois River. Here, you can hike through lush forests, spot wildlife, or take a leisurely drive along the scenic Great River Road. For those seeking a more thrilling experience, guided horseback rides are available to explore the park’s diverse landscapes.
Whether you have a passion for hiking, history, or simply soaking in the beauty of nature, the areas surrounding Scott AFB offer an abundance of experiences waiting to be discovered. From ancient landmarks to serene lakes and wildlife sanctuaries, each destination provides a unique opportunity to create lasting memories. So, plan your perfect day trip and embark on an adventure to explore the spectacular natural beauty that lies just beyond the base’s gates.