Mississippi Palisades Rock Climbing
Plenty of big roof moves make Kankakee a fun place...
The Palisades is a great area for anyone living near Chicago who can get away for a weekend. It is located on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river, just across from Iowa. The limestone bluffs rise roughly 180 feet above the river level in some places, though none of the climbs are actually this long. Pretty much everything here is top-rope, with tons of natural anchor options in the trees and some boulders on top of the walls. This limestone can get pretty manky - especially with wet and even just humid weather. There are a few routes that are in bee territory here, which can make the climbing very exciting. Because of the humid and buggy summers, the best time to climb here is October to November. A nice dry crisp fall morning here is ideal.
The favorite section here goes by a few names, but most people know it as "The Cove". It is a stone ledge roughly 30 feet by 30 feet behind the dominant Sentinel Tower. Several routes can be found in this small space, easy to moderate, plus a few harder lines. Getting into The Cove requires a class 4 scramble over some well worn holds (smooth as glass) and a few boulders.
Due to the close nature of the routes in The Cove, things can get very crowded here. Overlapping belay stances can be a hassle, but climbers with half a wit and a dose of courtesy shouldn't have any trouble. During the busy summer weekends the whole area can become overrun with gearless trundle-happy yokels who WILL step on your rope, gear, dog, etc. Be advised. Watch for flying cigarette butts from the observation deck above.
There are a few other areas along the palisade - please contribute if you are familiar. I'll do my best to update this soon.
Use a map to find Savannah, Il and then head north a few miles to Mississippi Palisades State Park. Camping is available at the north end of the park, but if you want to get away from the Good 'ol RV Folk (who mostly stay huddled within their giant rolling metal crap houses), you'll have to pack it in a mile or two to the primitive sites on the eastern hills. This is not recommended for climbers, however, as you'll be an awfully long walk from the crag. Instead, look for tent sites at the south end of the campground (sites #45-60). You'll be reasonably far from the RV's, and you can still car camp and then drive to the crag, which is located at the south end of the park. Ask park staff for more details and a map.
Weather station 12.2 miles from here
31 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',15],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Mississippi Palisades
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mississippi Palisades
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mississippi Palisades:
First Crack 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 60'
Nosey 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 60'
Pretzel 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a TR, 1 pitch, 60'
Over and Up 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c TR, 1 pitch, 70'
Blank Face 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c TR, 1 pitch, 60'
Featured Route For Mississippi Palisades
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Old Ed gets ready to rap off North Face.
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By Gary Taylor
Sep 26, 2009
The area between the Sentinel and the main wall is referred to many times on this site as "The Cove". Climbers in the 80's called it "The Quadrangle". In the 60's it was known as "The Cleft". It is a wonderfully pleasant place to spend an afternoon climbing and socializing.
By Joe Ballent
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 16, 2009
agreed! was there this october and witnessed a wedding on top of the Sentinal- the groom led the route in his tux! pretty impressive.
By A.J. W
From: Stillwater, OK
Mar 27, 2010
wondering about the routes referred to first and second crack? depending on what website and person these can be two different route each. I understand first crack to be between pretzel and double overhang and second crack to be between nosey and black face. I added third crack as a route located between blank face and up and off. wondering if anyone has clarification or whether this naming can be agreed on? thanks and the cove is a great little crag for the midwest
By Dan Roberts
From: Eastern Iowa
Jul 27, 2010
A top rope version of Red Wing, Mn. Fun place to climb with great views and exposure. Good footwork refresher after climbing at Pictured Rocks. What is the story with those beautiful cliffs south of the Indian Head? Did I spy bolts?
By Ted Pinson
From: Chicago, IL
May 24, 2015
Nice place...site could use some more precise directions to crags, overlooks. Based on the trail map, we drove all the way to the top parking lot when heading for the sentinel, when it was a much shorter walk from the lower lots.
By James M Schroeder
From: Sauk County, WI
Nov 2, 2015
Aside from Purgatorio are there any other established boulder problems here? If so, could someone who knows them post them? Thanks, James.