Saturday in Tahlequah on the Illinois River

This weekend my daughter and I took our first trip up to Tahlequah, OK to float on the Illinois River like so many Oklahomans before us – and it was a lot fun! 

Each year my brother-in-law and his family drive out to Tahlequah for an annual family vacation. There, they camp for 4 days at the Arrowhead Thunderbird Resort and then take a day to float on the Illinois River. This year, my 10-year-old and I tagged along.

OKC to Tahlequah map

Storm in Tahlequah, OK

She and I set off driving from Oklahoma City at 6AM; it is about a 3 hour drive. As we neared Tahlequah it began storming pretty severe. I had my daughter check the weather and it said hail was on the way, adding onto the already torrential downpour and brilliant lightening show. About 4 minutes from our destination we had to pull over at a neighboring resort to wait out the storm. We were sure we were not going to be able to float the river, but as you will see, it all turned out well.

After the storm passed and we were able to meet our people at the Arrowhead Thunderbird Resort, the real adventures began!

Thanks to the storms, the weather felt great and was overcast for a little over half of the float. My daughter and I rented kayaks and we all signed up for the 12 mile option which we aimed at casually completing within 6 hours.

Once we got rolling on the river, it was smooth sailing for the next 6 hours. We stopped a few times to swim, look around the woods, grab a bite to eat, and just chat. Thankfully I decided to drench us in sunscreen about a mile into the float even with the overcast. It severed well later!

We saw different wildlife while we were there, too. Soft shell turtles, snakes, minnows, cat fish, so many dragonflies; I found an interesting critter in the woods that was unfortunately dead, but he was still neat – and my daughter even spotted one bald eagle.

Floating the Illinois River was definitely a worth-while adventure and we will be making another trip out there, for sure.


“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”

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