Vermilion, Illinois, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||7 fpm|
|Max Gradient||10 fpm|
|virtual-96843||500 - 8000 cfs||II-III||19h41m||~ 494.406 cfs (too low)|
|Almost certainly too low for reasonable whitewater. Virtual gauge (when Leonore not reporting) approximates flow as 2.178*Pontiac flow (based on relative drainge). EXPECT that it will NOT be completely accurate.|
|VERMILION RIVER NEAR LEONORE, IL|
|usgs-05555300||500 - 8000 cfs||I-II(III)||19h39m||504 cfs (running)|
|Reasonable beginner/intermediate level. Gauge(1251 sq.mi. drainage) is 6.75 miles upstream. Drainage at put-in is 1278 sq.mi., ~2% more, so listed flow should be quite accurate for this reach.|
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|1.2||Hole in the Rock||II|
Carry down an excellent path from the road by the rafting outfitters. You can put-in right there, but many will opt to carry upstream as much as a quarter-mile to put in above the highway bridge. A sweet series of waves are scattered across the wide river. Some will offer repeat play, but more will be 'catch-on-the-fly', one-shot play.
A sweet wave forms here.
A couple of large tables of rock channel water between them. A funky wave forms here.
The river encounters a tall cliff face and deflects to the left. At the end of the cliff, a fine eddy and deep water allow great bow stalls and stern squirts.
This is usually the highlight of the run. A very significant landslide on river-right altered the right side of this drop in Spring 2009. Time has helped considerably, and there are now a number of lines boaters use to run this drop, as shown by this YouTube video of runs from May 2012, at 1400 cfs:
When flows are right, a pleasant diversion is to carry up this side creek to run a steep grungy falls. Unfortunately, Buzzi-Unicem has been (reportedly) increasingly vigilant about patrolling and ticketing trespassers on its property. Thus, we cannot recommend hiking up to this drop. Do so at your own risk. See the full description of Bailey Creek
A wonderful wave forms here at a good variety of flows. Rocks on shore are often used as a lunch stop.
As a result of a rafter death (and subsequent lawsuit), the river had been closed for a couple of years. As part of the settlement to reopen the river, IDNR has made significant changes at this location. Large cement blocks help break up the hydraulic behind the dam, and (virtually impossible to ignore) signage directs all river traffic to the notched right side of the dam, which should be runnable at a wide variety of flows.
A bend and a narrowing in the river form some compression waves. As flows increase, these build nicely into a great rollercoaster ride. And, one can paddle up the inside of the bend to regain all the way up to the first wave!
Another pleasant diversion (after all the action on the run) is to paddle up a side canyon to view a tall waterfall in a sandstone grotto.
It's a fair climb up and out of the river to the roadside where your shuttle vehicles may be parked.