If you are right-brained, (responsive to visual stimuli) you’ll love the Illinois River, (but of course, you won’t be able to verbalize your feelings about it afterwards). It is unbelievably beautiful, especially if you like to look at waterfalls and at every possible shade of green, (it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the only time you can’t see a waterfall is when you are asleep or to say that this is the greenest place on Earth). But the waterfalls and greenery aren’t the main attraction; they’re not even second place. The main attraction is the whitewater and it is the real thing, lots of challenging rapids, mostly in the middle section, mostly roaring, crooked, fast, blind slalom courses through, around and over big boulders. Even in the wealth of whitewater on the Illinois, Green Wall stands out: words don’t do it justice; you have to be there, quaking, to get a sense of it. And then there is the remoteness and isolation, which are a bit scary; the river is really the only way in or out – no roads, no trails, no escape routes. Far more than any other trip we offer, leaving the launch site on the Illinois feels like heading into the unknown. We can’t wait.
More about the Illinois River
The headwaters of the Illinois River are high in the Siskiyou Mountains of Northern California. Flowing north, the river cuts a steep and winding canyon to its confluence with the Rogue River, approximately 35 miles from the Pacific. The 34 mile section that we run is protected as a Wild and Scenic River and contains some of the most exciting and challenging whitewater in the west. It also contains some of the most exquisite scenery in the world. Numerous side creeks cascade directly into the river; deep, blue-green pools burst into sparkling whitewater; giant house-sized boulders and steep cliffs pinch the river through narrow passages; and colorful wildflowers bloom on shore. Adding to this spectacle of scenic wonder are rapids which can hold their own against any on the continent. Pine Flat, Submarine Hole, Prelude, and Green Wall, the Illinois’ signature rapid, are just a few of the many rapids that will be encountered.
The Illinois is a secluded, remote, and rarely run river with wide variations in its flow. Due to its difficulty, isolation, and unpredictable nature, it is best suited for experienced rafters looking for a challenging adventure. This is a challenging trip in a remote and inaccessible canyon; everyone should be physically fit, agile, coordinated, and healthy.
This is the most beautiful place I have ever been.