The Illinois River is considered one of the most isolated and spectacular whitewater kayaking and rafting trips in the country. It gained protection under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1984. This is a truly unique two to four day trip due to the crystal-clear waters, world-class pool drops and rapids, and lush coastal mountain scenery.
The river originates along the California/Oregon boarder in the Siskiyou Mountains before it falls through the coastal mountains of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness where most rafting trips put in. It runs 56 miles long and is a tributary of the Rogue River, which it joins up with 27 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Because the river rarely accumulates high levels of snowpack because of its location near the coast, the boatable season occurs during the rainy months from November to May, with the spring being the preferred time to run it. The river’s steep watershed means that frequent Pacific Northwest storms may wildly fluctuate the river’s flows.
It is a wilderness river that can test the strength and skill of boaters, as much as the class IV (and one Class V) rapids run through areas that are far from trails and roads. The river can rise to impossible levels overnight from rainstorms and floods. So while boaters must be prepared for the most extreme conditions, if you do experience a few days of sunshine during your trip, the Illinois River is an otherworldly paradise.