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Mississippi Palisades

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Access Climb T 
Blank Face TR 
Bowline T,TR 
Crack-a-Toe-a T,TR 
Decapitator T,TR 
Difficult Crack T,TR 
Double Overhang T,TR 
Ethos TR 
Face Off TR 
First Crack T,TR 
Java TR 
Knob Off TR 
Next To Nothing 12.a TR 
North Chimney (Flat on Your Back Crack) T 
Nosey T,TR 
Over and Up TR 
Papoose T,TR 
Pretzel TR 
Pretzel Face TR 
Purgatorio 
Quiver T,TR 
Return Engagement TR 
Riverview Ridge T,TR 
Second Crack T,TR 
Sentinel Chimney T,TR 
Sentinel East Face T,TR 
Sentinel North Face TR 
Snaky T 
Third Crack TR 
Twin Cracks TR 
Up and Off TR 
Wrap-Around Route T,TR 
Unsorted Routes:
Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

I.C. Rail Trail
Dixon's first section of singletrack. Formerly known as "Lowell Parkway Singletrack." Near Dixon, Illinois
From MP's sister site:

Mississippi Palisades Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 42.1454, -90.1662 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 24,844
Administrators: Dave Hug, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: metrozen on Jun 11, 2008
Forecast:
Today

85° | 61°
Monday

78° | 60°
Tuesday

83° | 66°
Wednesday

86° | 67°
Thursday

83° | 62°
Friday

82° | 61°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Plenty of big roof moves make Kankakee a fun place...

Description 

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.

Getting There 

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.

Climbing Season



Weather station 12.2 miles from here

32 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',11],['5.7',4],['5.8',4],['5.9',4],['5.10',4],['5.11',3],['5.12',1],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',1],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mississippi Palisades

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mississippi Palisades:
Nosey   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 60'   
First Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 60'   
Third Crack   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     TR, 40'   
Double Overhang   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   
Difficult Crack   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 35'   
Sentinel North Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     TR, 1 pitch, 60'   
Pretzel   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     TR, 1 pitch, 60'   
Blank Face   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     TR, 1 pitch, 60'   
Over and Up   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     TR, 1 pitch, 70'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mississippi Palisades

Featured Route For Mississippi Palisades
Rock Climbing Photo: Working the crux moves of Return Engagement.

Return Engagement 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13  Illinois : Mississippi Palisades
Two bulges after the midway point mark the crux - the second harder only because you'll be more pumped when you get to it. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Illinois

Photos of Mississippi Palisades Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Blank Wall Area showing routes left to right; Next...
BETA PHOTO: Blank Wall Area showing routes left to right; Next...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bob Horan on the Vellum 5.10d, Rock Creek Canyon, ...
Bob Horan on the Vellum 5.10d, Rock Creek Canyon, ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Panoramic view of some routes from the base of Sen...
BETA PHOTO: Panoramic view of some routes from the base of Sen...
Rock Climbing Photo: TR Anchors setup for Nosey, Son of Godzilla, and P...
BETA PHOTO: TR Anchors setup for Nosey, Son of Godzilla, and P...
Rock Climbing Photo: good view of Sentinel area.  Starting from the lar...
BETA PHOTO: good view of Sentinel area. Starting from the lar...
Rock Climbing Photo: Also on the south side, off of the Upton's cave tr...
Also on the south side, off of the Upton's cave tr...
Rock Climbing Photo: Top rope. Take Upton's trail south to upton's cave...
Top rope. Take Upton's trail south to upton's cave...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Sentinel.
The Sentinel.
Rock Climbing Photo: Old Ed gets ready to rap off North Face.
Old Ed gets ready to rap off North Face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Lucy and Tom on Sentinel.
Lucy and Tom on Sentinel.
Rock Climbing Photo: Map from the 1986 River Rock guide-book for the Se...
BETA PHOTO: Map from the 1986 River Rock guide-book for the Se...
Rock Climbing Photo: Map of the Twin Sisters / Brothers Buttress / Open...
BETA PHOTO: Map of the Twin Sisters / Brothers Buttress / Open...
Rock Climbing Photo: Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
Rock Climbing Photo: Ethos (5.10)
Ethos (5.10)
Rock Climbing Photo: java 5.4
java 5.4
Rock Climbing Photo: Crack-a-toe-a 5.4
BETA PHOTO: Crack-a-toe-a 5.4
Rock Climbing Photo: Scott Begins a crusty traverse under Ozzie's Point
Scott Begins a crusty traverse under Ozzie's Point
Rock Climbing Photo: Map of the Forgotten Wall area from the 1986 River...
BETA PHOTO: Map of the Forgotten Wall area from the 1986 River...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking at Nosey from the bottom of the Sential Wa...
Looking at Nosey from the bottom of the Sential Wa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Map of the Indian Head area from the 1986 River Ro...
BETA PHOTO: Map of the Indian Head area from the 1986 River Ro...
Rock Climbing Photo: A view of the Ol' Miss from the sentinel chimney.
A view of the Ol' Miss from the sentinel chimney.

Comments on Mississippi Palisades Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 12, 2017
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 Schroeder
Administrator
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.
By Paul Cartwright
Nov 7, 2016
What are the ethics of bolting or rebolting in the area? Last time I was there I saw some dangerous stuff that needs replaced and would be willing to do it.
By Pokey819
May 15, 2017
I found this on the IDNR website. I remember when i climbed here back in the 90's certain areas were off limits. See below, hope this helps.



Rock climbing is allowed in the park but only in specific areas. Rock climbing is allowed at the Sentinel Area, Twin Sisters and Indian Head. The south tower of Sentinel Rock is closed to climbing. Climbers should bring their own equipment and go directly to the bluff, no check-in is necessary. Permanent anchors are not allowed. Illinois Department of Natural Resources does not maintain the rocks, cliffs, or other natural features of Mississippi Palisades State Park and are not responsible for climber safety and climbing protection on cliffs. Climb at your own risk!
By Brandon Flock
Jul 6, 2017
I am moving to Chicago from Colorado and wondering if I should bring my climbing gear with me. Can you easily set TR on these routes? I don't climb trad and there doesn't appear to be any bolts. Thanks!
By Gary Taylor
Jul 6, 2017
Almost every route can be top roped. The exceptions are the Twin Sisters and the Sentinel which is frequently soloed.
By Caleb Lowery
Jul 12, 2017
Brandon - This definitely won't be up to colorado standards of climbing, but plenty of fun / challenging stuff out at the palisades. There are bolted anchors set up along the sentinel cove area which are accessible by trail, I think there are 4 - 5 different anchor locations which each covers a handful of routes. The Sentinel tower has bolted anchor / rap ring on top and has an easy 5.4 climb to the top which can certainly be solo'd.

Twin Sisters area only has one bolted anchor set-up which is on top of the free-standing tower, which you could potentially solo up depending on your comfort level. The northern face (with difficult crack, crack-a-toe-a) you can walk up top to, but there aren't any bolts for anchors, plenty of places to sling webbing though. The western rock / "tower" over in that area also has an easy, ~15' 5.easy solo climb to get on top, but no bolts for anchors, definitely need trad gear to set anchors up there.

Indian Head also has an easy solo to the top, which can be accessed by taking the trail to the top of the hill then an easy scramble down an overgrown switchback trail to get into a little cove area where you can climb ~15' up to the top. No anchors here either though - people typically create a super long anchor from the trees across the cove. There's a big flat rock on top that I've put gear in for an anchor, but YMMV.

Don't forget to look into Devils Lake in Wisconsin if you haven't either, a similar distance from Chicago and tons of more climbing.
By Brandon Flock
Jul 12, 2017
Thanks Caleb, I will take a look at that! I am definitely not expecting the climbing I am used to here (Within 30 minutes, I can access probably 10,000 lines), but I am hoping to keep my skills a little polished out in Chicago. Thanks for the tips and suggestion in Wisconsin.

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