Illinois River (Oregon)

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Illinois River
Green wall.JPG
Rafting the Green Wall Rapids on the Illinois River
Illinois River (Oregon) is located in Oregon
Illinois River (Oregon)
Location of the mouth of the Illinois River in Oregon
EtymologyThe U.S. state of Illinois, the birthplace of three brothers named Althouse who emigrated to Oregon and mined for gold along Althouse Creek and the Illinois River[2]
CountryUnited States
CountyJosephine and Curry
Physical characteristics
SourceConfluence of East Fork Illinois River and West Fork Illinois River
 • locationnear Cave Junction, Josephine County, Oregon
 • coordinates42°09′35″N 123°39′33″W / 42.15972°N 123.65917°W / 42.15972; -123.65917[1]
 • elevation1,271 ft (387 m)[3]
MouthRogue River
 • location
Agness, Curry County, Oregon
 • coordinates
42°33′00″N 124°03′58″W / 42.55000°N 124.06611°W / 42.55000; -124.06611Coordinates: 42°33′00″N 124°03′58″W / 42.55000°N 124.06611°W / 42.55000; -124.06611[1]
 • elevation
102 ft (31 m)[1]
Length56 mi (90 km)[4][Note 1]
Basin size983 sq mi (2,550 km2)[5]
 • locationnear Kerby, 50.3 miles (81.0 km) from the mouth[6]
 • average1,262 cu ft/s (35.7 m3/s)[6]
 • minimum121 cu ft/s (3.4 m3/s)
 • maximum92,200 cu ft/s (2,610 m3/s)
TypeWild, Scenic, Recreational
DesignatedOctober 19, 1984

The Illinois River is a tributary, about 56 miles (90 km) long, of the Rogue River in the U.S. state of Oregon. It drains part of the Klamath Mountains in northern California and southwestern Oregon. The river's main stem begins at the confluence of its east and west forks near Cave Junction in southern Josephine County. Its drainage basin includes Sucker Creek, which rises in the Red Buttes Wilderness, near Whiskey Peak on the California state line. The main stem flows generally northwest in a winding course past Kerby and through the Siskiyou National Forest and Kalmiopsis Wilderness. It joins the Rogue River from the south at Agness on the Curry–Josephine county line, 27 miles (43 km) from the Pacific Ocean.

The river's lower 50.4 miles (81.1 km), from where it enters the Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest downstream from Kerby to its confluence with the Rogue River, were designated Wild and Scenic in 1984. Of this, 28.7 miles (46.2 km) is protected as wild, 17.9 miles (28.8 km) as scenic, and 3.8 miles (6.1 km) as recreational.[4]


Sucker Creek is named after the state of Illinois, one of whose nicknames is the Sucker State. Miners from Illinois named the creek.[7] In 2011, the United States Forest Service worked on a project to improve the creek.[8] The project is a fishery rehabilitation project.[9]

Rafting and kayaking[edit]

Illinois River Rafters

The Illinois River is "a wilderness river that tests both the skill and strength of boaters".[10] For the 31-mile (50 km) run along the Wild and Scenic part of the river between upper Oak Flat near Kerby and lower Oak Flat, boaters are far from trails and roads.[10] In fact, it is "the most inaccessible river canyon in the lower 48 states..."[11] with sections that are inaccessible, even by trail.[12][Note 2] Depending on the water flow, this stretch of the river has eight class IV to IV+ rapids. Green Wall, a class V, "is considerably more difficult and longer than the others"[10] and below it lie 3 miles (4.8 km) of difficult rapids. The river is generally run by raft or kayak during the rainy season, October through April.[10] At flows below 800 cubic feet per second (23 m3/s), boating is difficult because of exposed rocks, and flows above 3,000 cubic feet per second (85 m3/s) "turn the river into boiling holes and rapids."[10] A heavy rain can turn an ordinary trip into a high-water nightmare.[10]

Permits from the U.S. Forest Service are required (year round) for river trips on the Wild Section of the river (between Briggs Creek and Nancy Creek) and groups are limited to no more than twelve. However, the permits for non-commercial groups are free and are self issued 24/7, but the permit must also be deposited at Oak Flat to verify the safe completion of the trip.[14] Since there is no dam on the Illinois River, river flows are highly dependent upon weather conditions. Changing weather can often result in water levels being too high or too low for safe and successful navigation. Furthermore, since water levels can rise rapidly, potential bad weather can also be the cause for cancelled or postponed trips.[15][Note 3] Nevertheless, even under acceptable conditions, the Illinois River can still cause casualties.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The distance between the source and the upstream boundary of the Wild and Scenic section, which begins at river mile (RM) 50.4 (river kilometer 81.1) and ends at the mouth, is an estimate based on map scale and ruler.
  2. ^ Due to the ruggedness of the canyon, the Illinois River Trail (the path of which run 27 miles somewhat near the Illinois River) never actually reaches the riverbank.[13]
  3. ^ In March 1998, a flash flood on the Illinois River resulted in the death of two rafters and required the helicopter rescue of ten others.[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Illinois River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. 28 November 1980. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  2. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003). Oregon Geographic Names (seventh ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 495. ISBN 0-87595-277-1.
  3. ^ Source elevation derived from Google Earth search using Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) source coordinates.
  4. ^ a b "Illinois River, Oregon". National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  5. ^ Hickman, O. Eugene. "Potential Natural (Historic?) Vegetation of the Central Illinois River Valley". Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Retrieved 22 May 2009. The document is Appendix E of the Illinois Appendices in zipped PDF format.
  6. ^ a b "Water-Data Report 2007: 14377100 Illinois River near Kerby, OR" (PDF). United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  7. ^ "Since You Asked: Sucker Creek got its name from Illinois". Mail Tribune. Medford, Oregon: Dow Jones Local Media Group. 17 August 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  8. ^ Krashesky, Kaylin. "Sucker Creek Restoration Project". KDRV News (Medford, Oregon). Archived from the original on 27 March 2012.
  9. ^ Fattig, Paul (11 August 2011). "S. Ore. project to restore salmon fishery". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon: Western Communications. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Giordano, Pete (2004). Soggy Sneakers: A Paddler's Guide to Oregon's Rivers (fourth ed.). Seattle: Mountaineers Books. pp. 122–24. ISBN 978-0-89886-815-9.
  11. ^ "Oregon's National Wild and Scenic Illinois River". KalmiopsisWild and Friends of the Kalmiopsis. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Illinois River in Oregon". CAcreeks. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  13. ^ Sullivan, William L. "Illinois River". Eugene, Oregon: Navillus Press. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  14. ^ "Illinois - 2 - Miami Bar to Oak Flat (31 miles)". American Whitewater. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Rafting the Illinois River in Oregon". California Whitewater Rafting. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  16. ^ Griffin, John; Brinkman, Jonathan (22 March 1998). "Illinois Flood". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications. Retrieved 3 May 2013. Reposted by
  17. ^ Quinn, Beth (10 May 2005). "Erich Fleischman". Retrieved 3 May 2013.

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML