Illinois rivers

Beginning kayakers looking for good rivers in Illinois for a two day trip. We are experienced campers and have no issues with gear etc. Just need suggestions on where it would be appropriate for parking,camping riverside, and other concerns.

Glad to see another Illinoisan on

– Last Updated: Jan-07-09 10:29 PM EST –

the site. Our club [Prairie State Canoeists] does some overnight camping trips on various Ill & Wis rivers. Check out the below link:

Hope you find something that matches your expectations. Please note that it's early in the season, check the club site often throughout the year, trips are added frequently.

See you on the water

And another idea…
…would be to get the Mike Svob book, “Paddling Illinois.” Cross-referencing between Svob and the Prairie State Canoers will give you a great combination. My top suggestion would be the Rock River, from below the Oregon Dam to Grand Detour or Dixon. It is bigger water than most of what you’ll find, but the many channels between the islands, especially above Grand Detour, make it a great trip. And Grand Detour (where John Deere built his plow) is a very cool little village. Here’s a link for the book:

Another thumbs up for Svob
"Paddling Illinois" is great. Also, Bob Tyler’s “Canoeing Adventures in Northern Illinois” is wonderful.

Tom Lindblade’s excellent videos can be found at: Scroll down to the links for the videos.

What part of Illinois are you in? If you ever want to paddle the Central Illinois area, there are lots of trips posted here on, mostly in the spring and summer. There are lots of great rivers and lakes in Central Illinois, and lots of skilled paddlers.


– Last Updated: Jan-08-09 3:59 PM EST –

I am from the Springfield area and would be interested in joining some of the trips. I'll keep watch on the message board. And by the way, just ordered Paddling Illinois today from Amazon.

– Last Updated: Jan-08-09 8:04 PM EST –

Welcome, ginger. Ginger ginger.

All videos in one place.

Thanks webmaster and fellow paddler, madcubano.

Paddle Dipping - A Skinny on IL
Your local Sangamon River could be a place to start.

Instead of leaving a vehicle parked overnight on any of the local stuff I would try to find a friend to drop you off and pick you up.

There are some big sand bars on the Sangamon downstream of Petersburg (there is an old dam at Petersburg you would have to portage). I have camped at the big bar where Salt Creek joins the Sangamon. From there the closest takeout is probably the route 97 bridge between Oakford and Kilbourne. Scout it first. That lower part of the Sangamon is pretty much a straight channel and does not appeal to me.

I paddle Salt Creek a lot. I have not camped on it but I have encountered a couple canoe camping on it. It does have more dead fall than the Sangamon so it would take more maneuvering skills depending on water levels, etc. My favorite stretch is the 2 or 3 miles downstream of the Middletown to New Holland bridge. A trip from Ed Madigan State Park, south of Lincoln to the SR 29 bridge north of Greenview might be a decent 2 day trip.

Another idea, probably much better for you than the Sangamon or Salt, would be the Middle Fork of the Vermillion east of Champaign. You could base camp at Kickapoo State Park or camp at one of the river side canoe camps. It is all public. You’d need two vehicles for shuttling. Plus, it is one of the highest quality streams and natural environs for paddling in central IL. Not a far drive from Spring patch either.

A local club to meet people to paddle with: Mackinaw Canoe Club –

Finally, for a high quality river camping experience head to MO where there is clear water, much more public land, and some great scenery.