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.


Matt Schirmacher

Friday, June 30, 2017

Very nice camp grounds, but the reviews about the trains are absolutely true. All day and night long, at least once an hour you hear a train going by blasting their horn. The only good thing is that it is so constant that after a day you get used to it. Other than the train very nice facility.

Jacob Clark

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Nice place to go camping with friends and family. Hiking trails we're narrow on some but still great trails. Bugs were bad this time around but I would go again. Trains were always going by but we didn't let that ruin anything for us.

David Hahn

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Great park with excellent camping. There are many good trails with good views of the limestone/dolomite cliffs and Mississippi River. I can't wait to come back and do a few more trails. We saw several Bald Eagles this week when we were hiking, including juveniles.

Amanda Randerson

Thursday, July 13, 2017

When passing through Northwest Illinois this is a must stop site. We always stop for a picnic a the top of the park. As we exit the park we get a beautiful view of the cliffs and Mississippi River.

Karin Harmsen

Monday, May 8, 2017

The spring flower show at Palisades State Park is just the best. The whole hillside is covered with white trillium, purple phlox and little pink native orchids. It is gorgeous!