Things are looking down at Palisades Park, where visitors are treated to some of the best views nature has to offer
SAVANNA – While my recent drive to Savanna came too early to take in the colors of fall, Mississippi Palisades State Park’s river scenery and bluffs offered plenty of sites to see.
Arriving at the south entrance, I missed the park office where I could get a map to guide me on my trip. I recommend going on along state Route 64 from Savanna to the north entrance and stopping at the office. A display by the door has a brochure with an excellent map.
Although I didn’t have a map, the park’s signs got me to the points where I could look down from the bluffs – way down – for a panoramic view of the Mississippi River, hoping for a photo opportunity. I stopped and explored at Lookout Point. A short walk took me to the edge and gave me a good look at the new bridge across the Mississippi River to Sabula, Iowa.
The other points are Oak (accessible to wheelchairs), Louis’ and Ozzie’s.
Hikers will find the park a paradise. Trails (distances are one way) are, in the north, Aspen, 1.7 miles; High Point, Route 84 and Deer, 1.5 miles; Bittersweet, .9 mile; Rock Top .7 mile; and Goldenrod .5 mile.
In the south are Sunset, Sentinel and Pine, all 1 mile; and Prairie View, .4 mile.
From Sentinel, hikers can view Sentinel Rock, and from Pine Trail, Twin Sisters Rock can be seen. Indian Head Rock has a trail that takes hikers to the top of the “head.”
The hikes in the north section are easier than the south. The park’s brochure warns that south section trails are not for the “tenderfoot.” These paths are narrow, close to the bluff and can be dangerous when wet.
Although the trails called to me, laziness was louder. I drove along most of the roads. If you do so without the map, each discovery of a picnic area or a quiet pine grove will make you feel like an explorer.
A special thing about this park and its bluff trails is that Native Americans walked those bluffs just like we do today. In the autumn, we can view the changing colors of the foliage and in the spring the park is blessed with shooting stars, trillium, bluebells and other blooming plant life.
Winter is no reason to stay at home with Palisades nearby. Cross-country skiing and sledding are allowed, and those who like fishing can try their hand at ice fishing at the boat launch area.
After looking over the park, my family and I drove over the new bridge between Savanna and Sabula on U.S. Route 52. We continued into Iowa, taking U.S. Route 67 to Clinton. From Clinton, we headed back across the river to Fulton and continued on to Morrison, where we ended our adventure with supper.
If you like to hike in the woods, by all means head to this park. Not a hiker? No problem. Driving on the park’s side roads can be just as interesting. Go on. Give it a try.
If you go …
What: Mississippi Palisades State Park
Where: 16327A state Route 64, Savanna
When: Daily, dawn to dusk; camping closed Oct. 31; hiking trails closed 3 days for firearm deer season weekend before Thanksgiving
Cost: No charge
Accessible: Limited accessibility to wheelchairs
Distance: About 53 miles from Dixon
Information: 815-273-2731 or dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/MississippiPalisades.aspx