Mississippi Palisades State Park in northwestern Illinois is home to over 2,500 acres of luscious wooded landscape, unique rock formations, and the waterways of the Mississippi and Apple Rivers. Follow the pathways of ancient Native American peoples as you hike the 15 miles of trails that have been used for nearly a thousand years. Get out of the rig and onto the Mississippi backwaters by boat and enjoy spectacular views of the cliffs while fishing for catfish and carp.
The word palisades is a geological term referring to the cliff faces surrounding river banks, and the Mississippi Palisades is a stunning example of this formation and the power of nature. Limestone caves are visible from the water, and striking rock features such as Indian Head and Twin Sisters tower out of the earth. The adventurous can take advantage of rock climbing areas, one of only three parks in the state that allow this fun and challenging sport.
Abundant wildlife and bird watching opportunities persist throughout the year. In the spring, carpets of wildflowers come to life and come fall, the foliage of the wooded ravines make a beautiful display of autumn color. Wintertime brings snow and fresh opportunities to experience the park differently. Four easily accessible viewing platforms provide sweeping views of the park and the Mississippi River. Explore Mississippi Palisades State Park on foot or by boat for a nature experience you won’t forget during your RV vacation to Illinois.
Mississippi Palisades State Park is located in the northwest corner of Illinois, north of the city of Savanna in Carroll County. There are two park entrances at the north and south ends of the park, with the north entrance being closest to the campground. Both entrances are accessible off IL-84. Located along the banks of the Mississippi River and within three hours of Chicago, the park is a great RV road trip stop.
You’ll have no trouble getting to the park using the main state highways. Once inside, the park roads wind through the attractions, so it’s best to use the north entrance for a more direct route to the campground. Use caution if driving the RV around to the lookout points in the park, as some roads are steep, and you’ll need to move slowly as the speed limit is 10 miles per hour. There are parking areas throughout the park near many lookout points and trailheads. Alternatively, you may choose to leave the rig at the campground and walk to the trails and viewing platforms. Be aware of weather conditions, as wet and icy roads may make travel difficult within the park.
There are 241 campsites open for RVs, trailers, and tents. One hundred ten of the RV campsites at the park come with 50 amp or 30 amp electrical hookups and have a maximum occupancy of four people. Campsites come with fire pits and picnic tables and may offer shade coverage. There are no water or sewer hookups in the campground, but drinking water stations and two sanitary dump sites are available. RVs and trailers longer than 40 feet cannot be accommodated.
Indoor showers and comfort stations are available at the campground and are open from May to October. A camp store is open during the summer months. Reservations can be made three days before your visit or up to six months in advance. There are several accessible campsite options available for those with mobility issues. Leashed pets are allowed throughout the campground.
If the campground within the park is full, or if you prefer to camp with more a little more convenience, check out the Lena KOA located in northwestern Illinois. Pull-through sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 75 feet in length, and each site offers electric hookups and firepits. Flush toilets, hot showers, propane, and firewood are all available on-site. If that's not enough, a dog park, bike rentals, Wi-Fi, and a heated pool open seasonally are also available at the campground. The campground is located under an hour's drive to the Mississippi Palisades State Park, making it easy to take day trips to the area. Reservations can be made in advance.
141 campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These only include a small number of sites with electric hookups, so be sure to book ahead if you will need power during your stay.
Mississippi Palisades State Park offers several hunting opportunities during the year. In the spring, wild turkey season attracts archers looking to practice their bowmanship. During the fall, a three-day deer season is opened to firearms, during which time the day-use area and trails of the park are closed for safety. With 1,500 acres of huntable land, there’s plenty of room to explore the topography of the park while tracking the wild animals that roam within it.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love getting their fill of crisp winter air during the snowy months in Illinois. Cross-country skiing is available on the trails with a full range of difficulty levels from the easiest in the north of the park, to the rocky and steep trails in the south of the park. Whether you're stretching your legs with a short trek of the Aspen Trail or braving the challenging Sentinel Trail, the enchanting landscape of frost covered bows and branches will take your breath away.
Don’t let the cold weather get in the way of your fishing hobby. During the winter, ice fishing is permitted at the boat launch area once the ice is thick enough. A fun alternative to traditional fishing, you’ll enjoy the peace and serenity of winter while getting a glimpse of the aquatic habitat beneath the ice. Dress warmly and bring a chair, it won’t be long until you are reeling up fish from the icy waters below.
The fun doesn't stop when the snow comes to Mississippi Palisades State Park. In fact, it creates new opportunities for nature lovers to enjoy the great outdoors. If you're willing to brave the cold, bring your own sled and childlike enthusiasm and take a ride down the hilly terrain. Kids and adults alike will have a memorable day in the snow while enjoying the views during their winter RV trip to Mississippi Palisades State Park.
The stunning riverside location of the Mississippi Palisades State Park means that an abundance of wildlife call this area home. If you're quiet enough and are in the right place at the right time, you may catch sight of some local fauna. White-tailed deer, mink, muskrat, weasel, woodchuck, and gray and red fox are all residents of the park. If you look up, you may spot eagles, pileated woodpeckers, and hundreds of other birds that migrate along the river. The further you are from the hustle and bustle of the RV camp, the better your chances of coming face to face with any of these beautiful creatures.
If you're itching to get out of the pop-up, grab your fishing gear and head to the river. Anglers are in for a treat with the scenic views of cliff faces and stunning greenery that surround the river bank. The Mississippi and its backwaters are known to be plentiful of several types of fish. Common catches here are catfish, carp, bass, crappie and, bluegill. If you're lucky, you may even reel in walleye or northern pike.
Mississippi Palisades State Park offers some of the best rock climbing in Illinois. Get a rare opportunity to rock climb at three designated areas in the park: Sentinel Area, Twin Sisters, and Indian Head. There are over 150 climbing routes available on these scenic limestone bluffs. Most of the routes are top-rope or traditional climbs of about 50 feet, but some are up to 100 feet high. Be sure to bring your own climbing equipment in your camper as there are no rentals available on-site.
Get a close look at flora and fauna of this stunning area by hiking the 15 miles of trails that traverse the land. The trails are divided into five routes, with the southernmost trails being the steepest and nearest the rock faces. The northern trails are broader and less strenuous, and between all the paths, there is sure to be a route suited for everyone. Make sure to bring your camera out of the rig to take pictures of the sweeping views from the lookout point platforms.
Taking the boat for a spin is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Mississippi River. You'll have to haul your own boat behind the motorhome as there are no on-site rentals. Boats of all motor sizes are welcome, and there is no fee to access the boat launch. Spend the day fishing, or simply enjoying the view. Finish off your day on the water by making use of the picnic tables back on land.
If you're looking for your next muse, see what mother nature has to offer at Mississippi Palisades State Park. This riverside park provides dazzling views of its namesake, palisades, which are steep cliffs located on along a body of water. Erosion has played a part in some of the park's fascinating rock formations, Indian Head and Twin Sisters, which are iconic bluff-top figures that should not be missed. If you're in the area in the autumn, capture the beautiful fall foliage, or come back in the spring to snap the blossoming of wildflowers.