Illinois River

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Oregon, USA

Illinois River Rafting Guidebook

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 river, the Illinois is subject to a wide variation in flows, especially during the rainy season, which often results 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.

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This guide was written by Zach Collier of Northwest Rafting Company. They run five star river trips on the Illinois, Rogue, Middle Fork of the Salmon, Owyhee, and Chetco. In addition to whitewater trips, they offer rowing schools, international trips and rescue courses. Learn more about Northwest Rafting Company here.

About This Guide & the Illinois

This guide is from Miami Bar to Oak Flat. It covers all significant rapids, camps, and POIs on the Illinois River.

The Illinois River most commonly has raftable flows from November through the following spring. Flows are highly variable in a short period of time, so paying attention to the gauge, the weather, and knowing your cut-off is very important for a safe trip. Recreational flows are considered to be from 700 – 2,400 CFS at the Kerby gauge.

Permits are required and can be picked up at Ray’s grocery store in Selma, OR.

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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.

Mile 0 – Miami Bar Put-In:

River Right. The official Forest Service launch site has a crude ramp and pit toilets. There is an alternate launch upstream at McCaleb Ranch.

Mile 1.7 – First Camp:

River Right. This medium sized camp on river right is a good option if you get a late start and want to camp on the river.

Mile 2.35 – Brigg’s Creek Rapid

Class II. This small rapids make a good warm up.

Mile 2.4 – Briggs Creek

Briggs Creek enters from the right side. Just downstream is a large gravel bar that makes a nice lunch spot with access to the Illinios Trail. If you walk up towards the trail you’ll come across some old rusty cars left behind. This is where the Wild and Scenic designation changes from “Scenic” to “Wild.” There is a parking area for hikers that can be reached by walking up the creek and crossing a footbridge.

Mile 2.7 – Panther Creek Confluence

Panther Creek enters on the right side and the Panther Creek Rapids are just downstream.

Mile 2.7 – Panther Creek Rapids

Class III. This is a set of 3 distinct rapids that start right after Panther Creek.

Mile 3.2 – Labrador Creek Rapid

Class III. This fun rapid begins immediately after Labrador Creek joins from the left. The Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary is just downstream of this rapid.

Mile 3.45 – Nome Creek Rapid

Class III. Nome Creek Rapid begins after the river takes a sharp bend to the left and Nome Creek enters from the left.

Mile 3.8 – First Darlingtonia Waterfall

River Right. Springs enter from high above the river on the right. Here you can find the insectivorous plants Darlingtonia Californica and Butterwort.

Mile 3.81 – Rapid #16

Class III. This rapid is a good warm up for Rocky Top which can be seen just downstream.

Mile 3.95 – Rocky Top

Class IV. Rocky Top is considered one of the more dangerous rapids on the Illinois due to a large undercut rock in the middle of the river. There are lines left or right of the rock as well as far right, all depending on river flows.

Mile 4.25 – Rock Garden North

Class III. This rapid has a wide, shallow entrance that offers some technical lines. The second half of the rapid can be tricky too.

Mile 4.6 – York Creek Confluence

York Creek tumbles into the Illinois River from the right. York Creek Rapid is just downstream.

Mile 4.7 – York Creek Rapid

Class IV. This fun rapid has three distinct parts. It begins with a technical entrance followed by 2 drops where you generally want to be right.

Mile 5.2 – The Goat

Originally named Rapid #23, this is a tricky rapid just above Clear Creek Rapid. In general stay right and try to avoid the wall on the left at the bottom.

Mile 5.4 – Clear Creek Rapid

Clear Creek Rapid commonly flips boats at all levels. If comes up quickly after The Goat so if you’d like to scout, find a place to pull over on the right.

Mile 5.5 – Clear Creek Confluence

Clear Creek enters from the right side.

Mile 5.5 – Shorty Noble’s Cabin

River Right. Scramble up the rock wall near the confluence of Clear Creek to visit the former site of Shorty Noble’s Cabin

Mile 6.1 – Unnamed Lunch Spot

River Right. Just before the river bends to the right there is a great spot to stop on river right. This could be a small camp if you’re looking for some privacy brefore Pine Flat.

Mile 6.5 – Rapid #29

Most people take the wave train down the middle but if you want some challenge, check out the narrow slot on the right. There is a great pour over hole perfect for raft surfing after the narrow slot.

Mile 7.6 – Upper Pine Flat Left Camp

There is tons of room to camp on both sides of the river at Pine Flat. If you’re looking for some privacy on a busy weekend pull over on the left before Pine Creek Rapid

Mile 7.8 – Pine Creek Confluence

If you want to scout the right side of Pine Creek Rapid (The Boat Eater) pull over where Pine Creek enters the Illinois River from the right.

Mile 7.8 – Pine Creek Rapid

The left side of Pine Creek Rapid is pretty straightforward.

Mile 7.8 – The Boat Eater

The “Boat Eater” is the right side run at Pine Creek Rapid. At most flows it’s a big hole and has been described as a “suckhole.”

Mile 8.0 – Lower Pine Flat Left Camp

River Left. Look for a nice spot to pull your boat over on the left after Pine Creek Rapid. This is one of the largest river camps anywhere and it can easily handle several gropus.

Mile 8.2 – Pine Flat Right Camp

River Right. If Lower Pine Flat Left is busy look for a place to pull over on the right side just downstream. This camp is less popular than the left side since backpackers sometimes camp here and it’s a longer carry up to the flat part of camp. There is a trail from this camp up to the Illinois River Trail and some wonderful views.

Mile 8.9 – Wallbanger

This busy rapid likes to send boats into the left wall.

Mile 9.8 – Klondike Creek Confluence

Klondike Creek enters from the left. Klondike Camp is just downstream on the left.

Mile 9.82 – Klondike Camp

River Left. This beautiful camp is tight for a large group. It also has some poorly located poison oak between the main kitchen area and where most people will set up tents. The eddy is tricky to leave and if you mess up it’s possible to flip on the wall at the bottom of the eddy.

Mile 11.6 – Rapid #51

This tricky rapid comes up quickly and is difficult to explain. Good luck!

Mile 12.7 – Deadman’s Bar

River Right. This is an awesome camp except that it’s a bit tricky to find and a hard, rocky carry up.

Mile 13.3 – Rapid #63

Class III.

Mile 13.4 – Tony’s Camp

River Right. There are several sand bars that could accomodate a group of up to 8 people. You could get more people in this camp but it would be tricky.

Mile 13.5 – Tony’s Camp Rapid

Class III. This is a fun rapid just downstream of Tony’s Camp.

Mile 16.8 – South Bend

River Right. After a large pink boulder (Radiolarian Chert) appears on the right, you’ve made it to South Bend. Some people call this spot “pink rock.” This is a nice low water camp with minimal tent spots. At higher flows a lot of the camp is covered up by water.

Mile 17.4 – Fawn Falls

This rapid is also known as Prelude as it is the beginning of the bigger whitewater on the Illinois River. At medium and high flows there are runs on the right and down the middle. At lower flows most people take the far left line.

Mile 18.5 – Little Green Wall

Many boaters have had successful lines at Green Wall and have struggled at Little Green Wall. This one can be tricky to scout from the left side but it’s worth taking a look.

Mile 19 – Rapid #98

Class II+.

Mile 19.3 – Sweeney Todd

Class III+. At low water this is one of the toughest rapids. It can be scouted on the left.

Mile 19.8 – Rapid #103

Class III+. This is a fascinating rapid with a narrow slot between boulders at lower flows.

Mile 20 – Holey Pohle

This rapid has a tricky entrance and a bunch of holes to miss.

Mile 21.3 – Collier Creek Confluence

Collier Creek enters on the left.

Mile 21.35 – Collier Creek Camp

River Left. There is a rocky camp with great views on the left just after Collier Creek.

Mile 21.8 – Waterfalls

River Right. There are many beautiful waterfall on the Illinois River but these waterfalls on the left may be the most picturesque

Mile 22 – Gravel Bar Camp

River Right. There is sometimes good sand tucked in a large gravel bar on the right. This is one of the more beautiful parts of the Illinois River.

Mile 22.1 – Kalmiopsis Wall

River Left. The rare Kalmiopsis Leachiana can sometimes be seen flowering on the left wall here.

Mile 22.3 – Sandy Beach Camp

River Right. There is a nice sandy beach on the right here.

Mile 24.5 – Conglomerate Rapid

The conglomerate boulders that form this rapid are similar to those found at Clay Hill on the Rogue River.

Mile 24.6 – Three Falls Camp

River Left. This is a great camp with camp spots tucked between boulders on the left just before the confluence with Silver Creek.

Mile 24.9 – Silver Creek Confluence

River Right. There is access to the Illinois River Trail here. A great hike is downstream to Connors Place where you can see the remnants of an old homestead.

Mile 25.3 – Connors Camp

River Left. This sandy beach is just before a beautiful canyon and across the river from Connor’s Place.

Mile 25.6 – Rapid #131

This is a fun rapid that comes up after a calm spot in the river.

Mile 25.7 – Rapid #131 Camp

River Left. There is a nice camp on the left below Rapid #131.

Mile 26.8 – Hugo Mayer’s Cabin

River Left. There is a large homestead with cabin sites above the river on the left. The tricky part is finding a way to get from the river to the homestead.

Mile 27.3 – Fantz Ranch

River Right. This ranch is a cool place to visit but there is no good route from the river to the ranch.

Mile 27.8 – Indigo Creek Confluence

Indigo Creek enters from the right.

Mile 27.84 – Darlingtonia Walls

Both sides of the river. The serpentine walls below the confluence are alive with Darlingtonia Californica (Pitcher Plants) and other rare plants.

Mile 28.4 – Rapid #143

This fun rapid has a rock (or hole) on the right you want to try and avoid.

Mile 28.9 – Upper Horsesign Creek Camp

River Left. This is a nice camp that can handle 10-12 people.

Mile 28.9 – Horsesign Creek Rapid

This is the last good rapid on the Illinois River.

Mile 29 – Lower Horsesign Creek Camp

River Left. This is another good camp that can handle 10-12 people.

Mile 29.7 – Lynch Bar

River Right. This is a large sandy beach that make a great camp just above take-out.

Mile 30.4 – Nancy Creek

Nancy Creek enters from the right and Oak Flat is below here. This is where the Wild and Scenic designation changes from “Wild” to “Recreational.”

Mile 30.9 – Oak Flat Take-Out

River Right.