The United States Congress designated the Panther Den Wilderness (map
) in 1990 and it now has a total of 821 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Illinois
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Panther Den Wilderness is bordered by
the Crab Orchard Wilderness
to the north.
The smallest Wilderness in Illinois, Panther Den shares its northern boundary with Crab Orchard Wilderness. Three fingers of Devil's Kitchen Lake extend into the northern section of this area, offering fishing for large and smallmouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. Sandstone bluffs and multilayered rock formations entice canoeists and photographers into the waters of Panther Den. Sheltered overhangs beneath the bluffs provide habitat for the endangered French's shooting star flower. Muskrats, deer, and beavers are common sights. Mink and bobcats (endangered in Illinois) have been seen here, too. Eons ago a large waterway flowed through this region. Today the valley that it cut is known as Panther Den. Hikers and bird-watchers usually head for this spot, for both the scenery and the avian-viewing possibilities found on the 70-foot-high cliffs. Huge blocks have split off from the canyon wall to form narrow crevices. Ancient rock shelters here suggest that people have been using the "Den" for centuries. Permits are not required for trail use or camping.