Open: Open all year Number of Sites: 241 Number of Sites with Electric: 110
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, puts 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.
The gateway to seeing the park’s impressive assortment of plant and animal life is its rugged 15-mile trail system. The five trails in the northern part of the park are generally wider and less strenuous than the five in the south, which are narrow and extremely close to the bluff. The southern trails also are very hazardous when wet.
The North System includes High Point Trail at 3.5 miles and Aspen at 1.9 miles. Sentinel Trail, at 1.2 miles including spurs, is the South System’s longest hike, but it and other southern loops aren’t for the tenderfoot. Ozzie’s Point, Louis’ Point and Lookout Point, four developed overlooks accessible by short walks, offer a surfaced trail leading to an overlook. Oak Point offers a trail surface suitable for the physically challenged.
Hiking trails are closed during the park’s three-day firearm deer season, and specific information in available at the park office.
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
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.
Fishing and Boating
With the Mississippi River and its backwaters the perfect habitat for so many kinds of fish, anglers are consistently baiting their hooks at Mississippi Palisades. Catfish and carp are the most commonly caught fish, but bluegill, crappie and bass are out there too. Those long on experience might even land walleye and northern pike. There are no motor size limits on boats, and launching ramps at the river access areas are free.
Hunters gather at the park each year for archery and firearm hunting for deer and wild turkey. During the three-day shotgun deer season, the campground, day use area and hiking trails are closed. Contact the park office for specific information. Hunter Fact Sheet
Throw a checkered tablecloth across one of the park’s many picnic tables and enjoy one of summer’s simple pleasures. Playgrounds and toilets are convenient to the picnic areas. The shelter houses and drinking fountains in the park attest to the 1930's craftsmanship of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Three shelters are available to groups of 25 or more on a reservation basis.
Don’t let a little cold weather keep you form visiting the park. Mississippi Palisades offers cross-country skiing and sledding for outdoor enthusiasts. Anglers aren’t left out in the cold either-or maybe they are-because ice fishing is allowed at the boat launch area when the ice is thick enough.
Forgot something? If you did, please stop by the concession stand located in the park to pick up the camping supply or grocery item you left behind. You will find the concession open from May 1 - September 15 and holidays during the week with varied hours.
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