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Palisades known for scenic vistas


Palisades State Park at Savanna offers spectacular vistas with jagged rock and trees as far as you can see in the Mississippi River basin. The park offers services for everyone from the primitive outdoorsmen to those with campers.

SAVANNA -- The towering bluffs of the Palisades State Park jut from the Mississippi River's basin into a crystal blue sky.

The green branches of thousands of conifers overhang and overlap, dusting the sandy stone below with fallen needles. The occasional red-tailed hawk peels from its hidden roost to perform an airborne pirouette on currents rising from the water.

Whatever prehistoric ice cube squashed the rest of Illinois pancake-flat ignored the northwestern tip, much to the delight of anyone who has ever taken a 50-mile journey on Illinois 84, north of the Quad-Cities.

Located near the little river town of Savanna, the Mississippi Palisades State Park is 2,600 acres of endless possibility. The bluffs offer one of the greatest scenic views of the river in Illinois.

If camping is your aim, the park offers three primitive campsites deep into the woods with no access other than a rugged footpath. They offer a truly wonderful experience for those who really want to get away from it all.

There also are 241 trailer and tent sites in both shaded and open areas. Fees are $8 for tent camping, $6 for primitive sites and $11 for electrical hookup sites. There are three buildings with showers and flush toilets around the park and they are in operation from May 1 until Oct. 31, although camping is open year-round.

The park's 13-mile hiking trail that is one of the best in Northern Illinois and rock climbers flock from as far away as Chicago to test their mettle against the many routes open.

The park also provides equestrian trails and riders and their horses can camp overnight at the Sorrel Horse Camp off Mill Hollow Road, near the park.

The area is renowned among area anglers because of the many areas on the Mississippi that provide pools and backwaters. The Apple River, along the park's western edge, also offers many varieties of fish. There are several free public boat ramps in the vicinity of the park and the area of river near the park is home to the 46,000-acre Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.

The park has two shelters available by reservation to groups of 25 or more. Playgrounds and toilets are conveniently located next to the to the picnic areas.

-- By Todd Welvaert (February 9, 1998)

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