Behind the breathtaking landscape of the Illinois river, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, offers decades of beautiful narratives that shaped the country as a go-to place for a one-of-a-kind floating experience.
Get ready to get your feet wet, and join us as we look back at Tahlequah’s float history and all the things Okies love to do outdoors.
A Quick Look Back
Before Tahlequah was given an identity, past settlers had different names to call this pristine haven. As an unknown land before, three tribal chiefs planned on gathering together and naming the place they could call home.
When the meeting day arrived, only two of them actually showed up. When they saw each other, they said “Tahlequah,” which means “two is enough” in the Cherokee language.
Illinois River History
This small river was designated as the main waterway the Cherokee used in their western homeland in 1828.
Before statehood in 1907, Oklahoma was Indian Territory. Indian Territory was a wild and violent area with virtually no law enforcement. Before, guerillas, robbers, and smugglers of alcohol all found refuge in the Cookson Hills, which run alongside part of the Illinois.
After statehood, and significant developments were introduced around the river. In 1954, the Tenkiller Ferry Reservoir was constructed to prevent floods, generate hydropower electricity, and produce water supply. Years later, it became a tourist attraction because the rugged hills and steep bluffs make it a perfect destination for outdoor recreation.
The river also became an important place for large groups of people to commemorate holidays and family celebrations. In fact, the Illinois River was a vital setting for a famous novel entitled Where the Red Fern Grows, which was depicted the Oklahoma Ozarks as a mecca for hunting and fishing.
Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is now one of the most popular destinations for adventurous souls who want to experience the authentic float experience on the water. It’s also a popular vacation site for guests who want to spend a relaxing weekend in the sun with their family and experience live entertainment in town.
The Illinois River in Tahlequah offers moderate current for several boats and raft outfitters along its scenic river bank. Float trips with small groups is the most popular way of experiencing the gorgeous Illinois River in Oklahoma.
Scenic Illinois River
The waterway running throughout Cookson Hills of northeastern Oklahoma is a stunning, 60 miles-plus Illinois River. The Illinois river is considered the best site for beginners because of its Class II rating, which means that it has a moderate current and you are safe to float there.
Data shows more than 180,000 people tubing, raft, or kayak down the Illinois River annually. Approximately 350,000 people visit to Tahlequah rivers for swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, bird-watching, and hunting.
Best Tubing Place
The Illinois river is generally considered the best scenic stream in the state. The thrilling 68 miles of pristine water rippling over flint rock down the Illinois River makes a float trip you won’t forget.
Children and adults alike enjoy this river, as it winds by rocky islands, numerous beach sites and high bluffs even under the sun’s heat. Summer is the perfect season for floating and rafting on the river or a lake.
While some love to be at peace on a large raft, others enjoy the rush that tubing and kayaks provide.
Have The Time Of Your Life
Have fun time with family and friends by getting on top of your kayaks, tubing, and rafts, as many business establishments offer top-notch lodging. Remember to grab your camera to capture every memory as you float down the Illinois River.
Ready to take an adventure this year? We have a large selection of open equipment to choose from, like our tube rentals, kayaks, and rafts for rent. So head over to our reservations page and get your trip planned earlier than later.