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Illinois River2021-07-08T12:11:54-07:00

Illinois River: Epic Whitewater & Scenery in Southern Oregon

The Illinois River is a tributary to the Rogue River and boasts 31 miles of incredible scenery, whitewater, and hiking. As a Wild and Scenic (very!) river, the Illinois is subject to a wide variation in flows, especially during the rainy season, which often result in huge boom or bust storms. The stretch consists of many rapids, including a dozen Class IV rapids, and the notorious Green Wall Class V rapid. This stretch of river has limited access, with few trails in or out, and scant put-ins/take-outs.

About this guide

This guide outlines the most common run on the Illinois River.

All data points were collected using GPS. This location information is provided. These locations were checked against Google Earth for accuracy. Distances are the averages of repeated trips that were GPSed.

Put-ins and take-outs include links to their Google Map locations. Use this to accurately build shuttle directions.

River Info

The Illinois River packs over 100 rapids, including 11 Class IVs and 1 Class V rapid into a 30-mile section. There is excellent camping, hiking, and whitewater throughout the whole section. When the flows are middle to low, the water becomes a beautiful crystalline blue.

Safety

The Illinois River is known for having limited river access, so emergencies can be difficult to deal with. It is wise to go with someone who has seen the Illinois River before at multiple flow levels, as the river changes drastically from one level to the next.

Permits

An Illinois River Use Permit is required for this section. These are free and can be acquired by self-registration at the Kiosk at the Ray’s Market in Selma, Oregon. These permits are available anytime and must be deposited at the Oak Flat Take-out upon completion of the trip.

Shuttle Info

The Illinois has a long shuttle. Here is the most common route for setting shuttle, if you choose to set it yourself. The shuttle can be run on your own, or you can use a paid shuttle service like Whitewater Cowboys. These typically are between $250-$350.

The Illinois River is subject to wild changes in flow, and at both low and high water becomes quite dangerous. We recommend boating when flows are between 1,000 – 2,400 CFS. These flows are most common in between March and May, during the snowmelt in the Siskiyou Range.

Illinois River Flow
Gauge data provided by the USGS

Illinois River Map & Guide

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment. Go with someone with recent Illinois experience.

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Class IV Rapid

Class IV rapid or river feature.

Class V Rapid

Class V rapid or river feature.

Put-In / Take-Out

The most commonly used access points.

Point of Interest

These include creeks, and old cabins.

Camps

Common Illinois campsites.

Miami Bar to Oak Flat  – Class II, III, IV & V

The Illinois River is a scenic section beginning at Miam Bar Put-In and ending at Oak Flat Take-Out. There are many rapids in this section, offering some nice continuous action throughout. Green Wall is a notorious Class V rapid, but many boaters seem to report more carnage just downstream at Little Green Wall Rapid.

Length

Miami Bar to Oak Flat is 31.25 miles.

Difficulty

Advanced to Expert.

Feet per Mile

Miami Bar to Oak Flat is ~24 FPM

Shuttle Time

Miami Bar to Oak Flat is 8+ hours round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0 – Miami Bar Put-In: River Right. Miami Bar is located just off of Illinois River Road. There is no water here, but there are pit toilets.

Mile 0.22 – Baker Creek Confluence: River Left. Baker Creek enters the Illinois River on the left.

Mile 0.65 – Oak Flat Camp: River Right. If you’ve gotten a late start on the day, Oak Flat Camp is just downstream of Miami Bar.

Mile 2.42 – Briggs Creek Confluence: River Right. Briggs Creek enters the Illinois River from river right.

Mile 2.74 – Panther Creek Confluence: River Right. Panther Creek enters the Illinois River from river right. Below here are a series of fun Class II and III rapids.

Mile 2.82 – Panther Creek Rapids: Class II. First of a series of Class II-III rapids just after Panther Creek Confluence.

Mile 2.91 – Rapid 11: Class II. The first of the unnamed rapids just after Panther Creek Rapid

Mile 2.99 – Rapid 12: Class III. Watch out for some rocks in the center of this rapid.

Mile 3.06 – Rapid 13: Class III. Keep your eyes out for a boulder in the center of the channel at the entrance of this rapid. River makes a gentle left turn here.

Mile 3.23 – Labrador Creek Confluence: River Left. Labrador Creek enters the Illinois River from river left. Just downstream lies Class III Labrador Creek.

Mile 3.26 – Labrador Creek Rapid: Class III. Just below Labrador Creek lies some fun read-and-run rapid. Many boaters start right and work left. At higher flows this rapid boasts some enormous waves.

Mile 3.47 – Nome Creek Confluence: River Left. Nome Creek enters the Illinois River from the left side

Mile 3.5 – Nome Creek Rapid: Class III. Just downstream of Nome Creek Confluence.

Mile 3.81 – Pitcher Plant Waterfall: River Right. This small waterfall has a good amount of the endemic Darlingtonia Pitcher Plant.

Mile 3.85 – Splashy Waves Rapid: Class III. Keep your eyes peeled for a large hole in the center. Going left or right of the hole is fine.

Mile 3.99 – Rocky Top Rapid: Class IV. Scout right. There is a large undercut boulder in the center of the channel which can be tricky to avoid .This rock feature makes Rocky Top one of the most dangerous rapids on the Illinois. Most boaters sneak right of the big rock.

Mile 4.61 – York Creek Waterfall: River Right. York Creek cascades into the Illinois River from river right. Just downstream lies York Creek Rapid.

Mile 4.69 – York Creek Rapid: Class IV. York Creek Rapid begins with a Class 3 entrance, before the river makes a sharp right bend. On the outside of this bend is a large wave/hole, which could give you trouble at higher flows. A lot of boaters will enter on the left, and work right through a chute to avoid this hole.

Mile 5.3 – Upper Clear Creek Rapid / Rapid 23: Class III. The river makes a right turn here, with a lot of current pushing towards a wall on river left. Enter right and do your best to stay off this wall, as Lower Clear Creek Rapid is just downstream.

Mile 5.46 – Clear Creek Rapid: Class IV. The river makes a sharp left bend. Work left on this rapid to avoid getting pushed against the wall on the right. Towards the bottom of this rapid is a large wrap rock in the center right of the channel.

Mile 5.54 – Clear Creek Confluence: River Right. Clear Creek enters the Illinois River from river right.

Mile 5.54 – Shorty Noble’s Cabin: River Right. The site of Shorty Noble’s Cabin was here. If you’ve got time to stop. At normal flows, you can hike up and check this out.

Mile 6.24 – Nude Beach Camp: River Right. Large sandbar you can camp on. Named after a large nude gathering that was surprised to see rafters as they passed by their camp.

Mile 7.09 – Small Waterfall: River Left. A small waterfall trickles into the Illinois River from the left hand side.

Mile 7.88 – Pine Creek Rapid: Class IV. Look for the large rock at the bottom of the rapid. You can go left of this rock at pretty much any flow. If you go right of this rock, there is a very large hole known as Boat Eater. If you go left at this rapid, it is considered Class II, going right here is considered Class IV.

Mile 7.82 – Pine Creek Confluence: River Right. Pine Creek Enters from the right. There are large flat camps on both sides of the river above and below.

Mile 8.07 – Pine Creek Flat Camp Left: River Left. Large Camp on river left, just below Pine Creek Rapid.

Mile 8.38 – Pine Creek Flat Camp Right: River Right. Large camp on river right.

Mile 8.77 – Florence Creek Confluence: River Right. Florence Creek enters the Illinois River from the right side.

Mile 9.69 – Really Cold Camp: River Left. As the name implies, this camp can often be quite cold. However, it is a very nice sandy camp.

Mile 9.95 – Klondike Creek Confluence: River Left. Klondike Creek enters from river left. Just downstream is Class III Klondike Creek Rapid

Mile 9.95 – Klondike Creek Camp: River Left. Small campsite located just downstream with good access to Klondike Creek

Mile 9.97 – Klondike Creek Rapid: Class III. Straightforward rapid with fun waves just downstream of Klondike Creek.

Mile 10.07 – Lower Klondike Camp: River Right. Klondike Camp can be tough to catch sometimes. This is a good backup if you miss it.

Mile 11.77 – Sulphur Creek Rapid: Class III/IV. Very large hole at most flows, can be avoided on right or left, but it is most often run to the right. Enter left of center, work right to sneak in behind a large boulder above the hole. At high flows (above 3,000 CFS) there are monster waves on this rapid.

Mile 12.09 – Sulphur Creek Confluence: River Right. Sulphur Creek enters on river right.

Mile 12.84 – Deadman’s Bar Camp: River Right. Tough camp to get to, but the climb is worth it for this epic, large campsite.

Mile 17.03 – South Bend Camp: River Right. As the river bends to the right after heading southwest for a mile or 2, this is a good camp, and the last opportunity to camp before entering the Green Wall Gorge.

Mile 17.64 – Prelude / Fawn Falls Rapid: Class IV. The quintessential chute rapid. Enter as left as possible, and hit the far left slot straight at lower flows. At higher flows, there are center lines you can take.

Mile 17.74 – Fawn Falls Camp: River Left. Small camp after Fawn Falls. Nice large eddy to pull into.

Mile 17.99 – Green Wall Rapid: Class V. Scout this rapid on river left. Class III/IV entrance, which you may want to scout as well. The crux of this rapid is making it through the tight, fast boulder field in the middle. Most boaters go through the center two boulders, and the work left to stay off of the right wall. Click here for a detailed description. 

Mile 18.22 – Green Wall Camp: River Left. Camp on river left just below Green Wall.

Mile 18.77 – Little Green Wall Rapid: Class IV. Little Green Wall is Green Wall’s mischievous little brother often causing more carnage than the notorious Green Wall. We recommend a scout here, as there are a lot of tricky, technical moves here. Halfway through the rapid, the river makes a sharp left bend, with a hole waiting at the bottom of a chute. Boaters often pass through this chute on the left to have momentum away from a boulder in the center of the channel.

Mile 19.04 – Little Green Wall Camp: River Right. Camp on river right. Can be hard to catch the eddy on the right side.

Mile – Left Little Green Wall Camp: River Left. Large, rocky camp on river left.

Mile 19.41 – Will’s Folly Rapid: Class III. Big drop, can go right or left, lots of current pushing into big boulders downstream.

Mile 20.03 – Nubbins Rapid: Class IV. Technical rapid, with moves through some tight slots. You can enter pretty much anywhere here.

Mile 20.8 – Submarine Hole Rapid: Class IV. Enter right, and then work far left to pass through a narrow chute between the wall on the left side, and the house rock in the center. Rafts often end up riding onto this wall, you’ll want to hit it with the nose to avoid flipping here. Click here for a detailed description. 

Mile 21.55 – Collier Creek Confluence: River Left. Collier Creek enters the Illinois River on river left.

Mile 21.55 – Collier Waterfall: River Left. A short hike up Collier Creek takes you to a nice waterfall.

Mile 21.67 – Collier Creek Camp: River Left. Camp with rocky access, but nice views and offers opportunity to explore Collier Creek

Mile 21.59 – Collier Bar: River Right. Large sandbar just across the confluence with Collier Creek.

Mile 22.11 – Small Waterfalls: River Right. Just downstream of Collier Creek are a set of nice waterfalls if you want to pull over and check these out.

Mile 22.8 – Waterfall Camp: River Right. Just downstream of the waterfalls is a small camp, giving good access to explore these waterfalls.

Mile 23.12 – Big Waterfall Camp: River Right. Just upstream of a large waterfall on river left, is a small sandbar camp.

Mile 23.22 – Big Waterfall: River Left. A large waterfall comes into the Illinois River from river left.

Mile 24.56 – Shady Camp: River Left. Medium-sized camp on river left after the river bends left.

Mile 24.7 – Mile 24.7 Camp: River Right. Small beach, with a large flat area. Good for camping with large groups.

Mile 24.95 – Leftside Waterfall: River Left. On river left, a nice waterfall drops in over a rocky area.

Mile 25.22 – Silver Creek Confluence: River Right. Silver Creek enters the Illinois River from the righthand side.

Mile 25.76 – Huge Waterfalls: River Left. A short hike up this creek leads you to a few very large waterfalls.

Mile 25.98 – Sandy Beach Camp: River Left. Sandy Beach camp is on river left after a fun Class III rapid.

Mile 26.32 – Bluff Creek Confluence: River Right. Bluff Creek enters the Illinois River from the right side

Mile 27.19 – Hugo Mayer’s Cabin: River Left. Hugo Mayer was a trapper that lived here and eventually was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison.

Mile 27.77 – Forest Creek Confluence: River Right. Forest Creek

Mile 28.16 – Indigo Creek Confluence: River Right. Indigo Creek enters the Illinois from river right.

Mile 29.23 – Horsesign Creek Confluence: River Left. Horsesign Creek enters on river left. There are camps above and below this point.

Mile 29.23 – Upper Horsesign Creek Camp: River Right. At the Horsesign Creek Confluence is a small camp, if you want to set up camp before Horsesign Rapid.

Mile 29.26 – Horsesign Creek Rapid: Class III. At the confluence with Horsesign Creek is a fun Class III rapid. Camps lie above and below this point.

Mile 29.3 – Lower Horsesign Camp: River Left. Another small camp lies just below Horsesign Creek.

Mile 29.38 – Buzzard’s Roost Dam Site: River Right. This is the site of the proposed Buzzard’s Roost Dam. Luckily for all of us boaters, the site was abandoned, and the river remains Wild & Scenic.

Mile 30.12 – Sandy Camp: River Right. A large sandbar on river right can be used as a campsite, with close access to the take-out.

Mile 30.43 – Ethel Creek Confluence: River Right. Just below Sandy Camp, Ethels Creek enters the Illinois River.

Mile 31.09 – Lawson Creek Confluence: River Left. Lawson Creek enters the Illinois River, within sight of the Oak Flat take-out.

Mile 31.25 – Oak Flat Take-Out: River Right. After a long sandbar, the Oak Flat Take-Out is on river right. Don’t forget to turn in your permit here.

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