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The Canoe outfitters are busy.  Keep calling their toll free numbers below for reservations.  

Float Trips, Camping, Vacationing

Oklahoma Illinois River

(then scroll down to listings of the Outfitters on upper Illinois for canoeing, rafting, kayaking or tubing)


İShop Oklahoma

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 sycamore trees. 

This page is sponsored courtesy of MarVal Family Camping Resort
Please make a visit

 
Marvel Resort and Family Campground,
Lake Tenkiller
Route 1, Box 314M, 
Gore, OK 74435
5 miles below Lake Tenkiller Dam.  

Marval 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 your pleasure.

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.

Marval Resort 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.

Lower Illinois River

    

Horseback Riding, Video Games & Pool Tables

 

 

 


 


The Honeymoon Cottage has a whirlpool tub and VCR

Golf Carts Available

Horseback Riding




4 Deluxe Lodges

2 Indoor Meeting Rooms w/kitchen

Cable TV

Laundry

Click on Resort Names below to go to individual resorts.  It is better to call the Toll Free numbers for reservations.

WAR EAGLE RESORT
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
RIVERSIDE 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 supplies.
Phone: (918) 456-4787

Toll Free: 1-800-749-2267
EAGLE BLUFF RESORT
Cabins, Lodge, RV, Camping
Phone: (918) 456-3031, Toll Free: 1-800-657-4837
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 Available
FALCON FLOATS
Bunkhouse, Camping, Kayaks, Pool
Phone: (918)456-8058, Toll Free:
1-800-653-5628
 
Peytons Place
918-456-3847
Toll Free 1-800-359-0866 or 918-456-3847
Lodge ,Cabins, Camping, Canoes, Rafts         
        
SPARROW HAWK CAMP
Bunkhouse, Camping
Phone: (918) 456-8371,
Toll Free: 1-800-722-9635

 

DIAMONDHEAD RESORT
Camping, Bunkhouse, Motel, RV, Kayaks, rafts, canoes.  Phone: (918) 456-4545, Toll Free: 1-800-722-2411
 
ARROWHEAD RESORT
Lodge, Cabins, Camping, RV, Canoes, Rafts, Kayaks
Phone: (918) 456-1140,
Toll Free: 1-800-749-1140

Illinois River Map
 
Email us your pictures


 

More Illinois Camping and/or Rental Facilities

 

All American 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

Burnt Cabin 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. 918-457-5421

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 Landing  Public Access- last public access before entering Lake Tenkiller - 68.5.mile mark

Chewey Bridge - Fee Access Area 23.6 mile mark

Echota Public Access - 53.2

Elephant Rock 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 lodging@elephant-rock.com

Elk Creek Resort & Marina
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
(918)458-5079     Fax:(918)456-2800
A 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 signs. 

Horseshoe Bend - 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

Sizemore Landing 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

Tahlequah Floats 
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 mark


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 1/2' 

Map of the Illinois River
Todays Water Level
 


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 large stripers.

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 unforgettable adventure.

3.2 beer in a can is allowable on the Ilinois River.  No glass or styrofoam is allowed
 

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission

Upper Illinois River 48 hour Recreation Forecast

My favorite water conditions are between 2.50' and 4 1/2' stage.  Janene



Stopping for a Dive İShop Oklahoma

For additional information and river conditions, contact the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission

 

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 non-swimmers.

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 footprints."

The Lower Illinois 

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 River.

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. 

 Flintridge 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.
918-457-5038

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 river.

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.
 

See Lower Illinois River Maps

Water Conditions below the Tenkiller Dam on the lower Illinois

Tahlequah

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: (800)456-4860.

Private boat access fees required by Oklahoma Scenic River Commission ($2 per boat)

 


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