OverviewMississippi Palisades State Park (MPSP) offers the best rock climbing in northern Illinois and western Iowa. There are no mountains of any significance in the Midwest, so this place is a virtual paradise for local climbers. The park is located in a very scenic setting overlooking the Mississippi River. There are 150+ routes in the limestone (Dolomite) bluffs that range from class 5.2 to 5.12. Most of the routes are about 50ft in length, though some are over 100ft.
Located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple rivers in northwestern Illinois, the 2,500-acre MPSP is about 3.5 miles in length. The bluffs run parallel to the river. Some areas are closed due to rock fall danger, as indicated below. The climbing areas are listed from north to south.
• The Sentinel
• Forgotten Wall - CLOSED
• Sun Buttress - CLOSED
• Twin Sisters (route beta needed)
• Indian Head (route beta needed)
• Bee Wall (route beta needed)
• Ampitheater Wall - CLOSED
• Butter Walls (route beta needed)
• Upton's Cave (route beta needed)
• Dihedrals (route beta needed)
Most of the routes can be climbed either with a top rope or traditionally. There is also at least 1 sport climbing route.
Getting ThereThe MPSP is located in northwestern Illinois, 5 miles north of the town of Savanna.
From I-90, exit at Rt-20 west (Galena/Freeport exit). From Rt. 20, turn south on Rt-84. The park is located 18 miles from Rt-20.
From I-80, exit on Rt-84 and travel north approximately 50 miles to reach the park which is located three miles north of Savanna.
The campground is located near the north entrance to the park.
Red TapeNo permits or fees are required to enter the park.
Contact the MPSP at (815) 273-2731 for additional information.
CampingThere are 241 Class A and B sites in MPSP. 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.
The camping fees are different for motor homes and tents, depending on your needs. Fees for tent camping are $6-$8 per day. Check here for current rates.
AmenitiesBesides rock climbing, the MPSP offers the following amenities.
• 241 camp sites
• 15 miles of trails
• restrooms / showers
• supply store
• picnic areas / covered pavillions
In addition, the town of Savanna is just 5 miles away where you can find gasoline, groceries, restaurants, etc.
GuidebookRiver Rock: A Climber's Guide to Mississippi Palisades State Park
External LinksMississippi Palisades State Park - Illinois Department of Natural Resources website.
Rockclimbing.com - Additional rock climbing information for Mississippi Palisades State Park.
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