The site of Fort Lee is on the brow of the Palisades, a short distance from the river and three hundred feet above it. The Palisades are a range of rocks, from twenty to five hundred and fifty feet in height, extending a distance of about twenty miles. In some places they rise almost perpendicularly from the shore, and form, for several miles in extent, a solid wall of rock, diversified only by an occasion fishing hut on the beach at their base, or wood slides down their sides, and sometimes by an interval of a few acres of arable land, affording an opening for a landing-place, and a steep road leading to their top. On the opposite side of the river the land is varied by hill and dale, cultivated fields and woods, with cottages and country seats.
According to the New Encyclopedia Britannica, the Palisades were formed near the end of the Triassic period by the "slow cooling of molten material." The term palisades was first used to describe these rock formations but has come to mean any line of steep cliffs.