Mention the Illinois River to any experienced boater and their eyes will light up. It's legendary for big whitewater, beautiful camps, and jaw-dropping scenery. This trip flows through the northern end of the famously rugged Kalmiopsis Wilderness in Southern Oregon.

The Illinois River flows through the north end of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness

The Illinois River flows through the north end of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness

River flows on the Illinois are highly variable due to it's rocky watershed and the unpredictable weather of the Siskiyou Mountains. High flows are dangerous on the Illinois, so you'll want to avoid going during or after heavy rains. If you're lucky enough to have sunny weather you'll experience a deep green water color that is unlike any other.

Featured Outfitters

ARTA River TripsARTA River Trips (800) 323-2782 is a non-profit organization that runs 18 of the best rivers in the West.

Momentum River ExpeditionsMomentum River Expeditions (541) 488-2525 offers world-class rafting trips in Oregon, Northern California, and Idaho.

Northwest Rafting CompanyNorthwest Rafting Company (541) 450-9855 is an award-winning group of professional, well-trained guides that lead people down the most beautiful rivers in the world.

The unique serpentine geology of the region produces many unique (and endangered) plants. The most interesting is the Darlingtonia Californica (a.k.a. Pitcher Plant) which has adapted to the lack of nitrogen in the soil by trapping and digesting insects.

Darlingtonia Californica (aka Cobra Lilies or Pitcher Plants)

Darlingtonia Californica (aka Cobra Lilies or Pitcher Plants)

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in at Miami Bar. There is an alternate put-in 4 miles upstream at McCaleb Ranch.

Mile 2.5: Briggs Creek enters from the right side.

Mile 2.9: Panther Creek enters on the right hand side and signals the beginning of 3 fun rapids in a row known as Number 11 (II+), Number 12 (III), Number 13 (III), and Labrador Creek Rapid (III). The Kalmiopsis Wilderenss Boundary is just downstream.

Mile 4.1: A large boulder rising above the horizon line marks Rocky Top (IV), the first Class IV rapid known for the dangerous undercut boulder in the middle of the rapid.

Mile 4.8: York Creek Rapid (IV) is a fun and long rapid that begins after York Creek enters from the right.

Heading into the bottom drop on York Creek Rapid

Heading into the bottom drop on York Creek Rapid

Mile 5.5: Clear Creek Rapid (IV) is a long rapid with some big holes at the bottom. Clear Creek cascades down the right wall after the rapid.

Mile 6.5: Rapid #29 (II) has a narrow channel on the right that is fun for rafts and kayaks. There is a great kayak surf wave in the main channel with good eddy access.

Rapid 29 has a great eddy service surf wave for kayakers

Rapid 29 has a great eddy service surf wave for kayakers

Mile 7.9: Pine Creek Rapid (IV) is separated into two channels by a large rock island. The left side is an easy Class II move and the right side and Class IV move around (or possibly through) a big hole known as the "boat eater." The surrounding area is known as Pine Creek Flat and has large camps on both sides of the river.

Mile 10: Klondike Creek enters from the left side. There is a small camp just downstream of the creek.

Camping at Klondike Creek on the Illinois River

Camping at Klondike Creek on the Illinois River

Mile 12.5: Deadman's Bar has a big camp on a bar high above the river on the right side.

Mile 17: South Bend is a nice place to regroup and have lunch before Green Wall. You'll recognize it by a big pinkish/reddish boulder on the right and a small creek entering on the left. This also makes a great camp for a small group at lower flows.

Mile 17.8: Prelude Rapid (IV-), aka Fawn Falls, marks the beginning of the most difficult section of the Illinois River. There is a nice far left chute at lower flows. At medium and high flows this there is a nice right line that is pretty straightforward.

The left line at Fawn Falls on the Illinois River

The left line at Fawn Falls on the Illinois River

Mile 18: Green Wall (V) is a famous rapid that should be scouted from the left. It's a long, complicated rapid that can be portaged by kayakers with some effort. It would be VERY difficult to line or portage rafts.

Green Wall Rapid at 1400 cfs

Green Wall Rapid at 1400 cfs

Mile 18.8: Little Green Wall (IV) is a tricky rapid that is tough to scout and can cause more problems than Green Wall. The next 2 miles have nearly continuous Class III rapids.

Little Green Wall at 1,000 cfs

Little Green Wall at 1,000 cfs

Mile 20.4: Rapid #104 (IV) has a ton of boulders in the entrance that offer a variety of ways to enter. This is one that you may want to consider scouting.

Mile 21: Submarine Hole (IV) has a reputation for flipping rafts at all flows. At lower flows rafts flip by riding up the right bank. At higher flows rafts can flip in one of the huge holes.

Negotiating Submarine Hole Rapid on the Illinois River at 1,000 cfs

Negotiating Submarine Hole Rapid on the Illinois River at 1,000 cfs

Mile: 21.7: Collier Creek enters from the left marking the end of the Class IV rapids. There is a great camp just downstream of the creek on the left.

Mile 25.4: Silver Creek enters on the right side. This beautiful creek is worth exploring if you have some time. The Illinois River Trail is close to the river here making this a great place to go for a hike.

Mile 26.1: Rapid #131 (III+) is a fun rapid with a good campsite on the left at the bottom.

Mile 28.4: Indigo Creek enters from the right side. The left bank is a good place to see Darlingtonia (Pitcher Plants).

Indigo Creek entering the Illinois River

Indigo Creek entering the Illinois River

Mile 29.3: The Illinois River flows through a beautiful canyon and Buzzard's Roost is a small peak 1500 feet above the river on the right. This was the the site of the proposed Buzzard's Roost Dam.

Mile 29.5: Horsesign Creek enters on left after Horsesign Creek Rapid (III+). There on the left upstream and downstream of Horsesign Creek Rapid (III).

Mile 31.4: Take-out on the right bank at Oak Flat. You can also continue down a few miles and take-out on the Rogue River.

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