Photo by Ron Day - See more river photos here
The Illinois River is a remote, natural, scenic flatwater river that is enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. The river offers many outfitters that provide canoe, raft, kayak and tube rentals, shuttles, campgrounds, RV parks, cabins or other improved acommodations and/or general stores conveniently located along Highway 10 (a high-speed River Road, if you will) outside Tahlequah.
The river is navigable for about 57 miles from Twin Falls at the Watts, Oklahoma Public Access Area down to the Oklahoma Highway 62 crossing just northeast of Tahlequah. The majority of recreational paddlers who come to the Illinois paddle the sections between Chewey Bridge and Highway 62 with the highest concentration of liveries located for first 15 miles northeast on Oklahoma Highway 10, toward Ellerville
The Illinois River is a basically a free-flowing stream, with minor regulation from the dam at Lake Francis on the Oklahoma-Arkansas border down to Tenkiller Lake below Tahlequah. Its waters are usually cool and clear, with excellent visibility and abundant fish life to be seen and/or caught, provided you possess a valid Oklahoma fishing license. The riverbanks offer many flat gravel bars for stopping to rest, eat, take photos or just kill a little time on a gorgeous river.
The topography is awesome, topped off by seeing Elephant Rock come into view, then paddling very close to it. Elephant Rock is on the section known as the Sparrowhawk Loop, so named because the river and the road wind around Sparrowhawk Mountain. (NOTE: This is a GREAT place for canoeing trips. The distance between two public access areas with parking for the put-in and take-out is only about 2 miles, perhaps less. But, the trip distance is about 12.5 miles by river. If doing self-shuttles, then this trip is ideal because of the short shuttle after a day on the river.
The Illinois River also offers good fishing for smallmouth bass, buffalo, catfish and other species. The river is especially well known for its smallmouth bass fishery. The natural look of the river creates an excellent fishing environment for the occasional as well as the serious fisherman.
Fish & Licenses
|Rusty Hook Fishing Guide 405-626-4331
|Wings in Flight Outdoors 918-633-4589
RV Parks & Campsites
Cabins & Lodging
Hotels & Motels
Tackle & Bait
Map & Directions
Along Highway 10 outside Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Directions to the Illinois River, Oklahoma.
Nearby Oklahoma lakes & rivers include:
North: Lake Spavinaw
Northeast: Lake Eucha
East: Lake Prairie Grove (AR)
Southeast: Stilwell City Lake
South: Lake Tenkiller
Southwest: Lake Greenleaf
West: Lake Fort Gibson
Northwest: Lake Hudson