Mississippi Palisades State Park

16327 Il Route 84

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.

Located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple rivers in northwestern Illinois, the 2,500-acre Mississippi Palisades State Park is rich in American Indian history.

Natural Features

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. 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 in 1973 when it designated acreage here as a national landmark.

Wooded ravines, whose brilliant hues splash the cliffs with color each autumn, dissect the unglaciated terrain. Ferns dot the deep ravines, while in the park’s northern region, white birch leaves of ripple in the wind. Each spring and summer the valleys and slopes are dappled with the blooms of trillium, bluebell, lobelia, shooting star and yellow ladies’ slipper.

Animal life, within the park and the river areas immediately adjoining it, is varied. Waterfowl and shorebirds are numerous, as are wild turkeys. Striking pileated woodpeckers make their home in the park, and depending on ice conditions, eagles feed at the river in January and February. Because so many birds migrate along the river, their lyrical songs can be heard at the Mississippi Palisades each spring.

But not all that’s fascinating about Mississippi Palisades’ wildlife is in the skies. White-tailed deer, gray squirrel, skunk, muskrat and weasel can be viewed in the park, as can mink, gray and red fox, woodchuck and, occasionally, badger.


Elise Raz

Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018

Great weekend camping trip! Just enough to do leisurely over two nights. Beautiful campsites and the bathrooms are kept up well. Overlooks on the Mississippi River are great picnic spots! Hiking is great for intermediate level hikers. The trail on the furthest overlook was not updated on the map we received though so be careful if you try it! Hosts were incredibly friendly and helpful!

Silas Pepple

Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018

Great state park. Beautiful hiking trails overlooking the Mississippi River. One of the best spots to watch a Sunset in Illinois. Wonderful park for photographers looking for landscapes of the Mississippi River.

Mary Hildebrandt

Thursday, Sep. 7, 2017

This is a gorgeous, well-maintained campground with great hiking trails and lovely lookout points over the Mississippi river. Trains come by frequently, even throughout the night, but it didn't bother us too much. The fees are affordable, it's pet friendly and has electrical hook ups for the non-tent campers. There's fire pits with grates for cooking at every site, plus plenty of picnic shelters. The rangers are friendly. I loved my stay here!

Mike Oliveri

Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017

Spacious campground with some fun hiking trails. Our family has a great time. They had no problem with fires, and it was quiet while we were there, even on a weekend.

Sheryl Ward

Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017

Very scenic park. The campground itself is so-so. Bathroom/shower house old and worn. Nowhere to set toiletries in the shower. Water came out in a mist, Hard to rinse off soap and shampoo, especially if you're a short person. Need paint and a BIG makeover. Signage in park almost non-existant. Good thing it's a beautiful place, because the amenities need an overhaul. One more gripe, can't even have a beer or two around the fire. Alcohol strictly prohibited in entire park. We did not know this when we booked, as have never heard of this type of thing. Oh well, we survived for our two night visit.