Palisades is the word used to describe a line of lofty, steep cliffs usually seen along a river, and Mississippi Palisades, 3 miles north of Savanna in Carroll County, handsomely lives up to its name. Located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple rivers in northwestern Illinois, the 2,500-acre Mississippi Palisades State Park is rich in Native American history.
The Native American pathfinders along the rock palisades of the Mississippi River did as present-day hikers do – in coursing the bluffs, they took the paths of least resistance. The trails at the Mississippi Palisades, especially the park’s southern routes, put you in touch with the past. Walk them, and you’ll trace the footsteps of all those who came before you, some of whom came this way nearly a thousand years ago.
Caves are evident, as are dangerous sink holes-limestone caves that go straight down. Erosion has carved intriguing rock formations, including Indian Head, with its aquiline characteristics, and Twin Sisters, a pair of humanoid figures on the bluff tops. The U.S. Interior Department recognized the remarkable nature of this area when in 1973, it designated acreage here as a national landmark.
Mississippi Palisades State Park is a popular destination for rock climbers in the Savanna, Illinois area. The rock climbing at Mississippi Palisades Park is known for its challenging limestone cliffs that provide climbers with a unique experience. The park has over 60 different routes that range in difficulty from beginner to advanced, making it an excellent destination for climbers of all skill levels.
The climbing routes at Mississippi Palisades Park are categorized into three main areas:
- Sentinel Buttress
- Eagle Buttress
- Indian Head.
Sentinel Buttress is the most popular area for climbing and features routes that range in difficulty from 5.4 to 5.12b. Eagle Buttress has a handful of routes, while Indian Head is known for its challenging overhangs and steep walls.
Climbing at Mississippi Palisades Park is allowed year-round, but the best time to climb is during the spring and fall when the weather is cooler. The park also offers camping, hiking, fishing, and boating, making it a great destination for a weekend getaway.
You need a permit
It’s important to note that climbing at Mississippi Palisades Park requires a permit, which can be obtained at the park office. Climbers must also adhere to the park’s rules and regulations, including using proper climbing equipment and leaving no trace.
With 241 Class A and B sites in both shaded and open areas, Mississippi Palisades is in demand by campers. Electrical hookups are available at 110 sites. Showers and flush toilets are situated in three buildings and are in operation from May 1 until Oct 31. You can pick up supplies at a camp convenience store, open during the summer. The campground also features water and two sanitary dump stations. Only campers with permits are allowed in the campground, with admittance prohibited from 10 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Reservations are no longer being taken for the Class A and B sites at Mississippi Palisades.
Two youth camping areas are also available. These may be reserved from June 1 through October 31. An adult must accompany every group of 15 minors. Any group of 25 or more must get permission from the site personnel before entering the park.