Noted for its beauty, the scenic Illinois River is nestled in the heart of the Oklahoma Ozark Hills. The Upper Illinois River is an easy flowing, Class II river with a rock bottom and shores, delightful scenery and several stretches of mild rapids making for great float trip experiences.
The Illinois River offers over 60 miles of clear water rippling over flint rock. The Illinois River is said to be the best canoe stream in the state with interesting and sometimes challenging waters. Both experienced paddlers and novices will enjoy float trips on the Illinois River as it winds by high bluffs, gravel bars and lush forests.
There are a number of float trip outfitters along State Highway 10 North which offer canoes, kayaks and rafts. Most outfitters rent the watercraft including life jackets and paddles and shuttle guests up the river, allowing them to float back down to the outfitter. Many float trip outfitters also offer camping, cabins or motels as well as amenities such as swimming pools, volleyball and basketball courts and picnic areas. Canoes offer superior maneuverability and make the float trip faster, while rafts carry more floaters and offer more stability. Outfitters can help floaters select the best watercraft for their group and skill level.
Wildlife is abundant along the scenic Illinois River including deer, fox, bobcats and a wide variety of birds. Bald eagles inhabit the area year-round.
The Illinois River is an excellent fishing destination for catching smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, walleye, and various sunfishes. The Lower Illinois River offers year round trout fishing. The designated fishing area is a 7.75 mile stretch from Tenkiller Dam to Highway 64 bridge near Gore. Bank access and boat ramps are available throughout the area for the convenience of fishermen. Overnight camping permitted at fee areas and the Gore Landing North. Daily limits and size regulations apply for brown trout and smallmouth bass.