Difficulty II-IV at this flow (II-IV normally)
Length 0.1 Miles
Gauge Rock River Below Rockton
Flow Range 3500 - 6000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 23 hours ago ~ 4460 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/02/2019 1:06 am

River Description


Rockton, IL has a WIDE dam which diverts most of the flow into a canal (to river left). Only at times of significant (higher than normal late-spring/summer flow) will there may be enough water passing over the dam to make it anything other than a scrape/grind down the sloping face. With significant flows, we recommend a significant amount of scouting, at a wide variety of flows, to understand potential dangers of play here. At the right flows, there are a few spots which offer some play, but there will also be numerous spots which will be just plain nasty (keepy). We would urge great caution for anyone opting to play at the dam on the Rock River at Rockton.

   All that said, we have a report from a boater in the area who is hitting this spot quite regularly. PLEASE NOTE! The flows listed here are NOT from the 'virtual gauge' which is now being used for this reach, but from upstream gauges which far understate the likely flow at this location. We hope to get updates on features and correlations to flows using the virtual gauge in the near future.

After 3 weeks of playing in the waves and holes of the Rockton Dam every other day this is scoop I have to offer:
The playability of the waves and holes seems to be well correlated to the gauge level. Though the dam is a quarter mile wide, and the channel it creates diverts some of the water when and only when the channel gates are open, there are numerous playspots at a variety of levels.

I'm taking the liberty of naming the holes here:
2600-3900cfs - Spin Critter (My Favorite Hole) goes from shallow and retentive, allowing spins and blasts, to nearly sticky allowing fast spins, blasts, and a few ends. This hole is on the far river right and is accompanied by several other holes that are surfable but shallow. Most holes on the right side are tame until higher levels.

At 3400 cfs (3200 at Indianford gauge + 200 from Turtle Creek) there are numerous runnable lines down the dam with a few rooster tails that drop into some not too manky holes. (Technically it is "illegal" to paddle above or down the dam.) Three-fourths of the hydraulic at the bottom of the dam looks either shallow-rocky or just plain keepy. But at the far river right there are 3 holes that provide some fun, all of which are shallow. The 3rd hole from the bank is the best at this level. Its a good balance of retention and swiftness. It allows some nice surfs and endless flatspins, even a few blunts and blasts in just the right spot. The hole also has gentle eddy service and provides a nice eddy line for squirt maneuvers when you wash out.

When the water rises above 4300, the entire river right starts looking ugly and sticky, then around 5000 all the way up to 5600 and probably beyond, it all looks like one big death machine. But that is when the usually shallow, and more accessible, river-left side of the dam comes into play (and its good stuff).

4400-5600+cfs - Winnebago Wave goes from a shallow yet surfy-rolly hole to a 4ft surf wave with deep surging holes on both sides. Its a quick steep wave with a big haystack hole behind it at high water, the hole on river left side of the wave is surging and capable of quick vertical maneuvers.

4700-5600cfs - Box Wave (named for the big concrete box right in front of the wave) would be a great place for novices. its the furthest river left spot with no real consequences except hitting bottom. its good for all day front surfing at 4400 and up, maybe some spins.

I have posted a video of some of my kayaking adventures in the midwest this summer. (The pioneering of the Rockton Dam is in there.)


(Footage of Rockton Dam begins at about 1 minute mark.)

Rapid Descriptions

Spin Critter

Class - II+ Mile - 0

At 3400 cfs (3200 at Indianford gauge + 200 from Turtle Creek) there are numerous runnable lines down the dam with a few rooster tails that drop into some not too manky holes. (Technically it is illegal to paddle above or down the dam.) Three-fourths of the hydraulic at the bottom of the dam looks either shallow-rocky or just plain keepy.



However, at the far river-right there are 3 holes that provide some fun, all of which are shallow. The 3rd hole from the bank is the best at this level. Its a good balance of retention and swiftness. It allows some nice surfs and endless flatspins, even a few blunts and blasts in just the right spot. The hole also has gentle eddy service and provides a nice eddy line for squirt maneuvers when you wash out.



At flows from 2600-3900 cfs this goes from shallow and retentive (allowing spins and blasts) to nearly sticky (allowing fast spins, blasts, and a few ends). This hole is on the far river right and is accompanied by several other holes that are surfable but shallow. Most holes on the right side are tame until higher levels.



When the water rises above 4300, the entire river right starts looking ugly and sticky, then around 5000 all the way up to 5600 and probably beyond, it all looks like one big death machine. But that is when the usually shallow, and more accessible, river-left side of the dam comes into play (and its good stuff).

Box Wave

Class - II+ Mile - 0

Box Wave (named for the big concrete box right in front of the wave on the sloping face of the dam) This is the furthest river left spot with no real consequences except hitting bottom. Its good for all day front surfing at 4400 and up, and may allow some spins. At flows of 4700-5600 cfs this is great place for novices.

Winnebago Wave

Class - III+ Mile - 0

At flows from 4400-5600 cfs, Winnebago Wave goes from a shallow yet surfy-rolly hole to a 4ft surf wave with deep surging holes on both sides. Its a quick steep wave with a big haystack hole behind it at high water. The hole on river left side of the wave is surging and capable of quick vertical maneuvers.

Comments

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9 years ago

Matthew Cooper here: The super high water (about 9000cfs) of late June washed away a lot of the trees that were above the dam. This changed the features of Box Wave and Winnebago Wave significantly. Box Wave is way more powerful, and more of a hole. Winnebago wave is no longer a wave but a very powerful, very keepy holem that is very ugly at 5000cfs. Shucks!

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description


This is a park-and-play, carry-in, carry-out, so ignore the 'shuttle directions' given below. However, you may use the text-entry box to input your home or other starting address to get drive time, distance, and directions to this location. (Contrary to the implication on the button, you do no have to enter a zip code. You can enter city state, street city state, or lat long (in almost any format) and it should work.)

Date Flow Result Factor  
2013-07-07 n/a Fatality Other Read More

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Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1198079 08/16/10 Rob Add rapids and photos.
1198075 08/16/10 Rob n/a
1198076 08/16/10 Rob Separate Rockton Dam from other (WI) Rock River dam listing
1198081 08/16/10 Rob Minor edits.
1211712 04/02/19 Rob updated image position
1198090 08/24/10 Rob Fix html error