US Whitewater > Illinois > Vermilion River



Illinois whitewater, Vermilion River

La Salle county, NW of Highway 178 to Oglesby Cutoff section whitewater kayaking, rafting, and paddling information.


CLASS II-III     7.7 miles
Went on 6/8/13. I have been running this stretch for 30 years. It was a great level. The best (most rapids) run is from Lowell to Olgesby. Many nice sets of rapids trip can easily done in 3 hours without stopping, but it's easy to spend 5-6 hours. We went with about 2050 cfs on the usgs.gov site for Lenore. It was a great level to bring the family and still be safe as long as you're cautious when entering the big rapids (wildcat, the dam,
    narrows.) Wildcat biggest ripids in illinois had a river right landslide and washed a massive rock right in the middle of it, and now instead of a nice straight safe run through it whether you dump or not now you have a
sharp left turn. I made it though without dumping several times a dumped once and didn't hit anything. But the water is up, so I would maybe think twice about going through it at a lower water level. Baileys creek home of baileys falls is now off limits. There is security patroling and watching boaters to make sure everyone stays off the cement factorys ground. No exceptions if trespassing (almost found out the hardway). The dam at the cement  
factory has been worked to make it safer (to many acidents and a death.) All you have to do is stay right. There are signs everywhere telling you to stay right. We made it through without portaging just fine now at a lower level maybe a different story. I have had to portage around it many times to be safe. Narrows are next just past the dam and these are the most fun of the trip. Very safe nothing to hit and there 4ft waves about 7 of them. Usually have to stop and dump the canoe out because it's usually about half full. Now I have been over these when the river was about 1.5-2ft higher and these are 6-7ft tall, plenty big enough for the boat in front of you to disappear but still totally safe no rocks to hit. After the narrows it's pretty much flat water till the takeout 20 mins of paddling. There is the creek the goes into Matthiessen state park on river right. It's an easy canoe up stream. At this level it's only about 20-25ft wide, but scenery is awesome then you almost make it all the way upto the 40ft waterfall in the park. Plenty of family fun. The takeout at the bridge by Oglesby is pretty brutal, long walk up steep hill, but it's all well worth it. I'm glad it's back open. We did the run twice in the same day with playing around at all the stops, swimming and what not. It took about 13 hours total a great day. Says Nathan

Haven't been to the river, but it sounds like its opened again. Good news, because I want to go soon. Story here: http://mywebtimes.com/archives/ottawa/display.php?id=418885 Says Henry

Vermilion river between Lowell and Oglesby remains CLOSED due to Buzzi cement claiming ownership of the river - currently IDNR. States representatives are getting involved and hopefully things will change? But as of 2/6/2010 this stretch is  CLOSED !! I believe this also includes Baily creek? - I also would use great care if considering cedar creek as Cedar Creek can be seen from My back yard I have never seen water craft on it and I know in the past and possibly currently electric wire has crossed these waters for cattle control - be aware of these dangers in this area (LaSalle Co.) on any creek waters ! sorry for bad news but thats the way it is - see www.LaSallenewstribunelocal paper search archives Vermilion -there are multiple stories concerning closure -  Says E.J.

Please, do not go past Lowell into Oglesby. I have had a bad experience at the Buzzi cement Plant Dam in Olgesby. Many people go over it and have drowned. Including one more this weekend. Please PULL OUT your canoe to the right, if you insist on going this way. Says Christine

I am from Japan and when i went to the vermilion river it was awesome. Japan does not have anything like it. Says Nawashitawa

This is an awesome trip when the river is high enough, its best to go in the spring and early summer, You can also put in farther up stream in streator or  numerous other spots on the way down. This river has beautiful scenery, cliffs, outcroppings, and wildlife. There is lots of nice flat water and ripples and lots of sandbars to pitch a tent or hang out for the day. It flows through Sandy Ford and Matthiessen state park. The stretch between red,white, and blue bridge and lowell bridge (the put in described on this page) also has some fun whitewater before you get to lowell bridge Says Aaron Parcher

Vermilion River, NW of Highway 178 to Oglesby Cutoff road map
Printable road map with the put-in and take-out locations clearly marked.


Detailed Map

Stats for this river stretch

Local weather forecast

These outdoors activities are available near Vermilion River.
 Whitewater Near Vermilion River:
Vermilion River, La Salle County, 1 miles away
      Class II-III - 7.7 miles long (NW of Highway 178 to Oglesby Cutoff)
Bailey Creek, La Salle County, 2 miles away
      Class I-II(IV) - 1.5 miles long (N2300 Road to Vermilion River)
Cedar Creek, La Salle County, 7 miles away
      Class I-II(IV) - 5.9 miles long (Cedar Creek Road to Peru Bottom Road)
Tomahawk Creek, La Salle County, 7 miles away
      Class II - 2.8 miles long (Troy Grove Blacktop to Little Vermilion)
Little Vermilion River, La Salle County, 8 miles away
      Class I-II(III) - 6.5 miles long (N3179 Road to IandM Canal)
Spring Creek, La Salle County, 12 miles away
      Class I-II - 6.2 miles long (1600N Road to Rail Road bridge above Illinois River confluence)
Covel Creek, La Salle County, 14 miles away
      Class II - 6.5 miles long (E.18th Road to Highway 71)
 Ski Areas Near Vermilion River:
Villa Olivia, Illinois , 67 miles away, 180 foot drop, 6 lifts, 9 runs
Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park, Illinois , 68 miles away, 180 foot drop, 3 lifts, 5 runs
Four Lakes, Illinois , 70 miles away, 100 foot drop, 7 lifts, 7 runs
Grand Geneva, Wisconsin , 82 miles away, 211 foot drop, 5 lifts, 16 runs
Wilmot mountain, Wisconsin , 86 miles away, 260 foot drop, 11 lifts, 25 runs
Alpine Valley, Wisconsin , 86 miles away, 388 foot drop, 14 lifts, 20 runs
 Marinas Near Vermilion River:
Starved Rock Marina, Ottawa , 7 miles away
Starved Rock Yacht Club, Ottawa , 7 miles away
Spring Valley Boat Club, Spring Valley , 14 miles away
 Hotels Near Vermilion River:
Starved Rock Lodge, North Utica , 2 miles away
Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort, North Utica , 2 miles away
Best Western Oglesby Inn, Oglesby , 4 miles away
Days Inn Oglesby/ Starved Rock, Oglesby , 4 miles away
Holiday Inn Express OGLESBY (LA SALLE/PERU AREA), Oglesby , 4 miles away
 Campgrounds Near Vermilion River:
Starved Rock State Park, Utica, 4 miles away
Lasalle/Peru KOA, Utica, 5 miles away
Utica KOA Kampground, Utica, 5 miles away
 Public Lands Near Vermilion River:
MatthiessenState Park, Illinois , 1 miles away
Starved Rock State Park, Illinois , 4 miles away
Buffalo Rock Park & Effigy Tumuli State Park, Illinois , 8 miles away
 Golf Courses Near Vermilion River:
South Bluff Golf Course, La Salle , 6 miles away
Dayton Ridge Golf Club, Ottawa , 11 miles away
Pine Hills Golf Club, Ottawa , 13 miles away
 Lakes Near Vermilion River
Spring Lake, La Salle , 13 miles away

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