Shawnee Forest jammed with visitors - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Shawnee Forest jammed with visitors

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SALINE-POPE COUNTIES -- If you hope to see the eclipse from Garden of the Gods, you're out of luck, at least for now. 

According to State Representative Brandon Phelps, the park is closed until further notice.

The Saline County Sheriff's office says the park was not equipped to handle the massive amount of traffic that came through this weekend.

Pope County Sheriff Jerry Suits tells us his deputies and national park rangers have had difficulties with crowds at the southern end of the Shawnee National Forest.

He says the National Park Service has had trouble with people setting up un-sanctioned campsites along roads and many small trail sites jammed with people.

Sheriff Suits says the worst problems his deputies have seen are in the Glendale area,  Bell Smith Springs, Burden Falls and Jackson Falls.

In fact, Sheriff Suits says the most cars his deputies have ever counted at Jackson falls in years past, was about 100 cars.  Late Sunday his deputies counted 211 cars there.

Park managers will re-evaluate tomorrow morning to determine if it can reopen for the eclipse.

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