Sixty Eight miles of crystal clear
water rippling over flint rock down the Illinois River creates the
perfect float trip. The Illinois is said to be the best canoe stream in
the state. Experienced canoeists as well as the inexperienced enjoy this
river as it winds by high bluffs, rocky islands, river birch and giant
Family Camping Resort welcomes you to
our haven of 105 acres in the foothills
of the Oklahoma Ozarks on ½ mile
frontage of the Lower Illinois River 5
miles below Lake Tenkiller Dam. Besides
log cabins and site rentals, we have a
swimming pool, 9 hole mini golf course,
24-hour laundry room, game room, snack
bar, playground, sand volleyball court,
half court basketball, 2-1/2 mile nature
trail, horseback riding and hay rides in
season, planned activities for the kids
and lots of open or wooded space for
The Lower Illinois River is a designated
trout fishing stream where anglers will
find rainbow and brown trout, record
stripers, walleye, crappie, catfish and
bass. Every person fishing MUST have a
trout license from the Oklahoma
Department of Wildlife and a fishing
license if 16 or older (all available in
the Welcome Center). The river is
stocked every other week in July through
March and once a week in April.
was rated Large Park of the Year from
the Oklahoma Association of RV Parks &
Campgrounds for 2002/2003 and 2003/2004
and was honored with the Redbud Merit
Award from the Oklahoma Travel Industry
Association and the Oklahoma Tourism and
Recreation Department for 2000.
Click on Resort Names below
to go to individual resorts. It is better to call the Toll Free numbers
Float Trips, Camping, Bunkhouse, Motel, Farm
House, Water Slide, Swimming Pool, Game Room with Pool Table
and Video Games. Covered Picnic Shelters with Built-in
charcoal grills. Canoes, kayaks and rafts. Store.
Phone: (918) 456-6272
Toll Free: 1-800-722-3834
Voted #1 Business on the River 1999
E-Mail: War Eagle Resort
Float Trips, Camping, Group Lodge, Cabins
overlooking river, air conditioning, kitchenettes, Grills,
RV, Rafts, Canoes, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes and
fishing. Canoes, kayaks and rafts. Camp Store with
Phone: (918) 456-4787
Toll Free: 1-800-749-2267
BLUFF RESORT Cabins, Lodge, RV, Camping
Phone: (918) 456-3031, Toll Free:
Rafting, Canoeing, Kayaking, Cabins, Group Lodges, Snack
Shop, Store, Lighted Sand Volleyball and Basketball Courts,
Two Campgrounds! Family Campground quiet hours 11:00 pm.
Late Night Campground, Quiet hours 1:30 am - Packages
Floats & Water Slide,17170
S Hwy 10, Tahlequah, OK 74464, 1-800-480-8705 - Float trip
outfitter on the Illinois River, with rentals for canoe, raft or kayak,
and trips available in distances of 4 to 57 miles. A new feature on site
also includes our 70 foot tall water slide with three chutes emptying
into a large swimming pool. Tent camping and food concessions on site.
Located at junction of Hwy 10, Hwy 62 and Hwy 51.
Buckford Public Access - 30.0 mile mark
Marina 10 miles South on SH-82, 10 miles west of
Keys on Indian Road. Open year round. Camping facilities, 24
electric/water hookups, sanitary dump station, restaurant open during
summer season, restrooms, boat ramps/docks, fuel.
Cedar Valley Camp 13734 N 569 Rd, Proctor, OK 74457
(918)456-4094 Canoe float trip outfitter for the Illinois River. Amenities on site
include tent camping, supplies and a shuttle service.
Carters LandingPublic Access- last public access
before entering Lake Tenkiller - 68.5.mile mark
- Fee Access Area 23.6 mile mark
Echota Public Access
Nature Park 2 miles North of Hwy 62/Hwy 10 junction. Eighty-five acres of nature
and hiking trails, fishing or swimming access to Illinois River. Cabins,
primitive campsites, gift shop, grocery store, outdoor grill, security
gates/patrol, showers, fully equipped kitchens, linens provided. park
grounds to be relaxing, quiet, and peaceful. Educational field trips,
rustic cabins to authentic-styled Mongolian yurts. Secluded primitive
campsites also offer privacy for our guests. 918-456-4215, E-Mail
Elk Creek Resort &
14 miles East on SH-82 across Illinois River Bridge and take first
right. RV sites open year round 8am-8pm. 8 electric/water hookups,
lodging rentals, restrooms, grocery, outdoor grills, picnic areas, boat
docks, fuel, boat rental. 918-457-5142
Extreme Mountain Sports
Hwys 51/62/10 junction, Tahlequah, OK 74464
complete recreation park offering challenging activities and sports
including a ropes course, paintball, rock climbing wall, mountain bike
rentals, obstacle course, Gladiator jousting, ziplines, hiking trails,
picnic and grill areas, and much more. We also rent kayaks, as well as
provide a guided float trip. Check us out for your next group outing!
Tropical sno cones and concession stand on site. Days/Hours Open: May 15-Aug 28: Fri-Sat noon-6pm, or by
appointment for groups. Directions: Located at SW corner of Hwys 51/62 and Hwy 10. Follow
- 65.6 mile mark
Low Water Bridge
Public Access - dangerous during high water
10.4 mile mark
No Head Hollow Public
Access - 41.5 mile mark
Peavine Public Access - 32.4 mile mark
Pettit Bay 10 miles South on SH-82, 5
miles West of Keys on Indian Road. Open year round. 91 campsites, 70
electric/water hookups, 2 full hookups (wheelchair accessible), picnic
areas, restrooms/showers, playground, swimming, hunting, public
telephone, marina with boat ramps and heated dock, fuel. 918-487-5252
River City Motel
& Camper Park
Across from city hospital. Open year round.
10 full hookups, pull-throughs, restrooms/showers, sanitary dump
station, restaurant, picnic areas. 918-456-1401
Riverside Park Public
Access - 55.3 mile mark
Public Use Area 10 miles South on SH-82, 10 miles West of Keys
on Indian Road. Open year round. 32 primitive sites with picnic tables,
boat ramps. 918-487-5252
Spencer Ridge Resort 16444 E 580 Rd, Kansas, OK 74347
(918)597-2269 (877)226-1090 Canoe and raft float trip outfitter for upper portion of Illinois
River. We also offer campgrounds for tenters and RVs, cabins, supplies,
shuttle service and showers. Directions: From Tulsa, take Cherokee Turnpike (Hwy 412) until it
ends. Then, take first exit after that and go right. Travel on gravel
road for 1 mile.
Stunkard Public Access
- primitive camping - restroom facilities. 28.0 mile mark
North of US-62/SH-10 junction. Open April thru October. Primitive
camping, showers, restrooms, picnic tables, picnic supplies, canoe/raft
rentals. 918-456-6949, or 1-800-375-6949
Watts Public Access
(U.S. Hwy 59 approximately 4 miles south of Siloam Springs) 3.1 mile
Be sure to wear a life jacket It is usually
something stupid and dumb that will cause an accident. If the River is
in flood stage, canoe trips could be dangerous.
My favorite water conditions are between 2.80' and 4
For fishermen, the upper river has smallmouth bass, and the lower
section is known for its year-round trout fishing. Where the Illinois
empties into the Arkansas River Navigation Channel you will find some
Public camping and access areas are conveniently located along the
river. Canoe rental concessionaires will provide equipment and
experience to make your float trip on the Illinois River an
3.2 beer in a can is allowable on the
Ilinois River. No glass or styrofoam is allowed
Note: At normal flows, the Illinois is a
Class II River. Class II=Easy rapids with waves up to 1 ft. and
wide, clear channels that are obvious without scouting. Some
maneuvering is required.
The Upper Illinois
The Illinois River is Oklahoma's best
known scenic river. Legislation in the 1970's officially designated the
upper 70 miles of the Illinois River as a scenic river to protect the
river for future generations.
The Illinois is a river cherished for its
beauty. It's nestled in the heart of the beautiful Oklahoma Ozark Hills
with their ever-changing oak-hickory forest There is breathtaking beauty
spring summer, fall and winter. The upper Illinois is an easy-flowing
river with delightful scenery and several stretches of mild rapids. It
is an excellent fishing stream with smallmouth and largemouth bass,
channel and flathead catfish walleye and various sunfish.
Canoeing is one of the most poplar
activities on the Illinois. Floaters can enjoy 70 miles of interesting
and sometimes challenging stream. You don't have to own a canoe or boat
to float the Illinois; both can be rented at several locations along the
river. Floating the Illinois is not dangerous, but certain safety
precautions are in order anytime you are on the water. To get completely
away from summertime canoe traffic, you must travel further upstream.
The community of Watts near the Arkansas - Oklahoma State line has one
or two canoe outfitters located in the area. This far upper stretch is
floatable without much trouble except during the very low water flows in
the heat of the summer. This upper stretch is lightly fished with many
areas probably not fished at all. Lifejackets are a must for
If you plan an overnight trip on the
Illinois, you'll want to take along camping gear. Essentially the same
as for other camping. Anything which might be damaged by water should be
stored in waterproof plastic or rubber bags and tied with a short length
of rope to the bracing of the craft. The length of the river (68 miles)
makes it idea for multi-day floating and overnight camping. However, if
one chooses to camp on the river, be very aware of the weather at all
times. Even moderate rains upstream can cause the river to rise several
feet very quickly.
There are over 70 species of fish in the
river. Smallmouth Bass, Black Bass, Channel Catfish, Sunfish and larger
Perch are the predominate "catchable" species. During the early spring
of the year, Sandbass migrate up into the lower portion of the river
from Tenkiller Lake on spawning runs.
Primary food sources for the fish include
crawdads, minnows, hellgrammites, sculpins and Madtoms (black catfish).
These Black catfish are small (one to three inches in length), coal
black, miniature catfish that burrow into the gravel in the shallows.
Smallmouth and Black Bass go "crazy" over these delicacies and a large
black weighted woolly bugger or other imitation can be very productive.
The stream is best fished from canoe or
flat bottom John boat. Wade fishing at several access points is
possible. However, the amount of water that can be covered at these
access points is often limited due to deep water up and downstream from
these areas. Most public access points will accommodate a hundred yards
or more up and downstream for wade fishing. However, during the summer
months most of these areas are usually populated by swimmers,
sunbathers, beaching canoes and float outfitters delivering their
customers to the stream.
Floating the river and beaching at likely
spots along the rivers length provides greater access to productive
water and far more enjoyment of the river, and your fly fishing trip.
Canoes can be a problem for the fly
fisher during the summer months. On a typical hot, summer day, hundreds
of canoeist and rafters will be on the river. The weekends are very
crowded at times. The best time to fish the river is during the weekdays
and early morning and late evening hours. If using one of the commercial
canoe outfitters along the river, the upper portion of the river
(upstream of Chewey Bridge to Round Hollow) receives less canoe traffic
than the middle and lower portion of the river. Riverside Floats, one of
the last upstream commercial Outfitters, traditionally runs this section
of the river when water levels permit. A fourteen mile and seven mile
float is available with put-ins upstream of Chewey Bridge or at the
bridge for the seven mile trip. The take out point is at the Round
Hollow Public Access.
To get completely away from summertime
canoe traffic, you must travel further upstream. The community of Watts
near the Arkansas - Oklahoma State line has one or two canoe outfitters
located in the area. This far upper stretch is floatable without much
trouble except during the very low water flows in the heat of the
summer. This upper stretch is lightly fished with many areas probably
not fished at all.
Floating the Illinois can be a delightful
experience and you'll want to keep it that way for others who may
follow. Leave your campsite clean and don't litter the shoreline or the
water. A good motto for float trips or any other type of outing is:
A group from Diamondhead
"Take nothing but photographs - leave nothing but
Below Lake Tenkiller Dam lie the cold
clear waters of the lower Illinois River. It is a beautiful bubbling
stream. Fishermen have been coming to the lower Illinois since 1965 when
it was established as Oklahoma's first year round designated trout
stream. Because trout are such hard fighters once they are hooked, trout
fishing continues to attract more and more anglers. The state record
trout, 10 lbs. 6 oz. was caught in 1966 and still stands. The Fisheries
Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife stocks trout every
weekend from the end of March through the 4th Of July weekend. The rest
of the year trout are stocked every other week usually on Friday.
Contingent upon access and water oxygen content, stockings take place at
4 locations along the 7.7 mile stretch of the trout stream. All anglers
must purchase a trout stamp. It is valid from January 1st until December
31st and is a necessity to fish any of the seven designated trout
streams or lakes in Oklahoma. Fishermen are allowed to use any kind of
bait: live or artificial. The limit is 6 per person, 12 in possession.
It is legal to catch and release as long as the trout are not harmed.
Trout are the only game fish that may be used for bait; and many do use
them to catch the monster stripers found in the cold water. Four of the
last six records for stripers have come from the waters of the Illinois
It is an easy river to fish, and there is always an angler around with
ready advice for the novice. Stripers (Striped Bass) are a salt-water
fish that runs up fresh water rivers to spawn. By accident, some were
trapped in fresh water and they survived and flourished, leading to the
introduction of the species to fresh water lakes and rivers throughout
the United States. During the Spring of the year, large stripers invade
the stream from the Arkansas River in search of trout. Many striper
fisherman are aware of this favored food of the stripers and will often
use live Rainbows as bait on the lower part of the stream. Stripers in
excess of thirty pounds are caught by this method toward the lower end
of the river.
Stripers are a schooling fish. Many times during the year, they can be
found surfacing when they are feeding on bait fish, but don't count on
it. During the summer months, they usually will be found in deeper
cooler water in groups. Athough the weather is colder and less
conductive to going fishing, the winter months of November through April
have excellent striper fishing. The stream has been stocked recently
with German Brown's in addition to Rainbows.
MarVal Resort and Family Campground,
Lake Tenkiller, Route 1, Box 314M, Gore, OK 74435
1/2 mile frontage of
the Lower Illinois River 5 miles below Lake Tenkiller
Dam. 24 log or cedar cabins,
2 hilltop deluxe lodges, nature trail, rec hall (heated and
airconditioned), laundromat, swimming pool w/beach, mini
golf, playing field, children's pond, fishing tournaments,
large groups, rv-boat storage, tent and rv sites, horseback
riding, volleyball and more.
Park on Tenkiller Lake
14 miles SE on SH-82. Open year round. 10 full hookups, full marina,
laundry, grocery and restaurant nearby, outdoor grills, basketball and
volleyball courts, horseshoes, fenced playground.
There are several public access points
along the stream. The two most well known access areas are at the dam
site and through MarVal Trout Camp. By an agreement with the Oklahoma
Wildlife Conservation Department, MarVal Trout Camp will allow free
access to the river when possessing a valid fishing license and trout
stamp. Marvel Trout Camp is one of the major stocking points on the
What follows is a description of access
points and the more productive fly fishing water around each area
beginning at the dam site. All descriptions are oriented facing
downstream unless otherwise noted. The maps and descriptions are with
very low water releases and "rough" but close enough to actual layouts
for you to identify the more productive spots.
Note: the lower Illinois is subject to
wide variations in water level from sporadic power generation. Keep a
careful eye out for rising water and quickly retreat to the side of the
stream where your vehicle is located.
Is one of the most historically significant cities west
of the Mississippi River. Tahlequah was the end of the Trail of Tears
for the eastern Cherokees and has been the capital of the Cherokee
Nation since 1841. This northeastern community has also been named the
55th Best Small Town in America. But don't let the words 'small town'
fool you. This college town of 10,000 is rich in history, historic sites
and outdoor recreation.
The Illinois River is generally considered to be the best canoe stream
in the state, as it winds by high bluffs, rocky islands and giant
sycamore. Several camps and resorts are located along the river to
accommodate visitors. Fishing enthusiasts will find smallmouth bass in
the upper river and year-round trout fishing in the lower section.
Tsa-La-Gi, an ancient village depicting Cherokee living can be
viewed at the
Cherokee Heritage Center, along with Indian art, crafts and
books. During summer months, don't miss the River City Players Music
Show where NSU stude family-style entement show.
The Cherokee National Museum is the only facility devoted to the
preservation of the heritage of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest
American Tribe. Guests can visit an ancient village, then hear personal
stories from the Trail of Tears and see how the Cherokee people rebuilt
their nation. While most Oklahomans have read about these elements of
history, the Cherokee Heritage Center offers a deeper understanding of
the Cherokee people through personal stories of their history,
traditions and spirit.
For more information, contact the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce at:
Private boat access fees required by Oklahoma Scenic River Commission
($2 per boat)
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