Tahlequah river float venue

Floating Rules and Restrictions On The Illinois River In Tahlequah

There’s no better way to celebrate a good time with family and friends than to have a float trip to the beautiful Illinois river.

Surrounded by different types of trees, the scenic Illinois river cuts through the steep and rocky bluffs of Cookson Hills, This region of Oklahoma is home to diverse wildlife animals and is a popular tourist destination for anyone who loves camping, kayaking, or going on float trips under the sun.

The Illinois river offers a breathtaking landscape, and it’s a place where that Oklahoma state wants to preserve for any person to enjoy. So, we advise all our visitors to observe the Tahlequah river float rules for a hassle-free float trip experience.


Illinois River Rules and Restriction


What Not To Take

Plan the most fun float trips with peace of mind by knowing which things you should not bring. Here are the following:

  • Children under the age of 2.
  • Glass.
  • Styrofoam containers.
  • Ice chest or cooler over 50 quarts.
  • Hard liquor is prohibited in most public accesses, but 6% alcohol is generally permitted on the Illinois River. ( Note: Any alcoholic beverage you buy at Walmart is allowed on the river if you bring it in its original container, not glass)

What you should take on the water

  • Dry box to secure your keys
  • A small first aid kit, a whistle, or a phone in case of emergency.
  • Water shoes to protect your feet from spiky objects and sharp rocks on the river bed.
  • Small ice chests or coolers with a locking system or be held shut with a bungee.
  • Water container to avoid dehydration when you’re camping
  • Sunscreen.
  • Extra trash bag (there are free trash bags provided, but just add a spare if you have a lot of trash)
  • Cover up clothing, hats, and sunglasses to prevent heat stroke

Wear Your Life Jacket!

If you are up to having a chill float on a kayak, raft, or canoe, be sure to wear your life jacket.

We know how fun it is to jump right in to the river water, but we want you to make sure that every person is safe. We can’t accurately anticipate the river conditions, and the current may be too strong for some inexperienced swimmers.

Also, it’s a common practice for teens to tie rafts together with life jackets. It is not recommended, and you can even get fined for it because tying rafts together makes it hard to maneuver the raft safely. Remember that tying canoes, rafts, or kayaks together is strictly prohibited.

Come relax, sit back and enjoy a safe raft with your group floating down the river.

Have A Float Plan

It would be best if you’re prepared for the possibility of becoming separated from your companions. When the current is strong, it can be difficult for people in different rafts, canoes, or kayaks to find each other again, especially if there are a lot of people on the river that day.

Plan ahead so that everyone in your group has each other’s phone number and maybe even a meetup point. For those who have never done a float trip, you might choose to ease into river rafting with a 2- to 4-hour excursion.


Children Can Also Float The River


Children Can Also Float The River

Are you floating with children? You might have more fun on your trip when there are fewer people around.

  • Children with age 12 and below should always wear a life jacket
  • Floaters with age 13 and up should secure a life jacket within arm’s reach

If you want to avoid the wild party atmosphere, starting your float early in the morning or avoiding traveling on holiday weekends is best. Check each company’s website ahead of time for more information and schedules, as some may be closed on Sunday.


Any person who has floated the river knows how exhausting it can be after many hours on the water. That being said, you will probably want to reserve a place to stay or rest up. Some resorts offer motel rooms, cabins and even camping. After your floating escapade, you will probably be hungry, and want to explore picnic areas or nearby restaurants and snack shops in Tahlequah.

Preparation matters even more when floating on the busiest days, like Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day, and throughout the summer.

Make your floating or camping trip more fun and memorable by bringing the right gear, and being safe on the lake. At Riverbend By The Bridge, we can bring you to places where fun awaits. Book now to get the authentic Oklahoma experience.

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