We'll meet you at 8:00 pm the evening before the trip begins in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Grants Pass, Oregon (105 NE Agness Ave. 800/838-7666). At the pre-trip meeting we will give you your waterproof bags, go over final trip logistics and answer any last minute questions. The following morning you will leave your vehicles at the Holiday Inn and we will transport you to the river (3 hours). At the conclusion of the trip we will return you to the Holiday Inn (5 hours).
Driving: Grants Pass is located on Interstate 5 about 55 miles north of the Oregon-California border; 6-7 hours from San Francisco, and 12-14 hours from Los Angeles. To get to the Holiday Inn Express, take the South Grants Pass exit, (#55), and head west towards town on Grants Pass Parkway. Take the first right onto Agness Ave. and the motel will be on your right.
Flying: Horizon/Alaska, and Skywest/United serve Medford, Oregon, which is about 30 miles southeast of Grants Pass. For van transportation from the Medford airport to Grants Pass, contact Galice Resort, 541/476-3818. Due to potential delays, we do not recommend flying out of Medford the evening that the trip ends.
Overnight accommodations for both before and after the trip are good at either the Holiday Inn Express (800-838-7666 or 541-471-6144) or the Best Western Inn Grants Pass (800-553-7666 or 541-476-1117) which is right next door. Reservations should be made well in advance.
Being Prepared: llinois River weather is notoriously inclement and you should come prepared for cold and rainy conditions. DO NOT SKIMP ON THE EQUIPMENT LIST! Because the river is extremely cold, we will provide "Farmer-John" type wetsuits and splash jackets, but everyone should bring their own thick fleece top, (or two) as well as wool or fleece layers for their head, feet and hands. Drysuits are a great option and can be rented from Pacific River Supply (510/223-3675) for about $100 for the week. In camp, you will want good rain gear, a rugged tent and a warm sleeping bag; we have tents and sleep kits available to rent; reserve rental gear in advance when you complete your on-line registration.
Oar-paddle combination rafts are 14 or 16 feet long and are configrured so that two or four paddlers can assist a guide who rows the raft using oars. The precision of an oar raft and the power of a paddle raft makes this the ideal rig for the Illinois.
Meals: ARTA meals are well-balanced and consist of quality foods with fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. The guides double as camp chefs and the menu includes a wide variety of dishes. Lunches usually consist of hand-foods and are served picnic-style at riverside stops. Dinners and breakfasts are cooked over an open fire and often include tasty Dutch Oven baked treats. If you have special dietary requirements or are celebrating a special event during the trip, please let us know in advance.
Drinks: ARTA provides water, lemonade and punch during the day and hot coffee, tea and cocoa in the morning. If you would like soda, beer, wine, or liquor with your dinner, please bring your own in unbreakable containers, (beer and soda in cans, wine in bags/boxes or plastic bottles and liquor in plastic bottles). Due to weight and space restrictions, we ask that you limit the amount of canned drinks to a moderate amount (one or two six-packs per person).
Weather: Think rain! The Illinois is only runnable during the early spring when the weather is usually wet. It doesn’t rain all the time, (it sometimes snows), but you should be prepared for drizzly overcast days. Highs are usually in the 60’s with lows in the 40’s. The water temperature is in the 40’s.
Local Attractions: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in nearby Ashland is renowned for its Elizabethan Stagehouse and plays. Also in the area are the dramatic Crater Lake National Park, the scenic Oregon Caves National Monument and the historic town of Jacksonville which is home to the Britt Music Festival.
Travel Insurance: Because life is full of surprises, we suggest you consider purchasing supplemental travel insurance for your trip. Trip cancellation, evacuation, baggage loss and other coverages are available for between 4% and 11% of your trip cost. You can get more information at www.travelinsure.com; please enter ARTA's Participating Organization Number (215296) at the top of the enrollment form.
Gratuities: We want you to feel like a guest in our home. But if you feel that your guides did an outstanding job, a post-trip gratuity is a flattering way to let them know. Tips should be based on your satisfaction, your financial means and your attitude about tipping. Tips typically range anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the trip cost, (with the occasional recommended book or coveted hat thrown in). It is customary within ARTA to give the tip to the Lead Guide who will distribute it equally amongst all of the staff. And thank you very much.
If there are any questions we haven't answered, please feel free to contact us. We really enjoy talking about our trips, so don't hesitate to call: 800-323-2782.
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 the Illinois' signature rapid, Green Wall, 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.