Mississippi Palisades State Park is a great place to camp and a suitable place to backpack. Located just south of Galena it is about a 2 hour drive away from Chicago. There are 241 camping sites at the northern entrance including electrical hook ups at 110 of the sites.

The electric sites are $20.00 per night through November 1 and between then and April 30 they run $18.00 per night. The non-electric sites are $10.00 and $8.00. All sites including the primitive ones cannot be reserved and are on a first come first serve basis. This means on busy summer weekends it might be a good idea to get on the road early before the good ones are all taken. The park office mentioned that one of the three primitive sites is almost always available.

The three primitive camp spots for hikers run $6.00 a night. These primitive sites are about a mile walk from the parking lot and there is no water available at them although they do have an outhouse, picnic table, and campfire grate. Since there is no water it is important to make sure to have enough. The general rule of thumb is one gallon per day per person. Being only one mile from the campground it would be easy to go back and fill up. The park asks that everything is carried out from these locations.

The trail system for backpacking is nice, but very small if into serious hiking. There are only 15 miles in the whole park and about 5 of these miles are on the south end. The south end trails have no camping and all the trails are pretty steep as they traverse straight up to the various scenic overlooks. The north entrance is where all the primitive camping spots are located. The trails here are less rugged than the south side.  The north side does have one overlook at the end of the Goldenrod Trail.

What trails can be found in this park are actually very beautiful. There were times it felt like the Smokey Mountains as the trails climbed above steep ravines thick with ferns and other vegetation as large oaks and birches towered overhead.

With only ten or so miles suitable for backpacking the trail system can easily be covered in one day and night. It is not the greatest adventure travel destination, but here in Chicago we cannot be too picky unless a five or ten hour drive is undertaken. The park is perfect for a weekend or a one night adventure.

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