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Oregon’s Wild and Scenic

Illinois River

A one-of-a-kind adventure for the truly adventurous

Illinois River Rafting Trip

  • Length: 32 miles / 4 days
  • Season: April and May
  • Activities: Class IV/V Rafting
  • Minimum Age: 16
  • Includes: Professional guides, exceptional food,
    and all equipment
  • Meeting Place: Grants Pass, Oregon
  • Trip Cost: $1595/person

Enthusiastic guides with love of rivers

I am so glad this company has an Illinois permit. The professionalism and general good character of these guides will have me coming back to this magical place with this team on an annual basis.
- Rebecca Post

BinocularsEvery river is unique and no single day on a single river is ever the same. Yet the Illinois stands apart as a river unparalleled in its pristine, wild course through the remote Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

The difference between an Illinois River rafting trip and other river trips is apparent right from the start. Instead of the jostle of crowded put-ins strewn with gear and people and the frenetic energy of a busy boat launch, the unimproved and mostly-deserted river bench put-in at Miami Bar sets the tone for a more introspective sort of journey. And you’ll need the calm and quiet you’ll find here to marshall your resources for the days ahead because just around the bend of what looks like a gentle undulation downstream, lies some of the biggest wildwater in the region.

Raft Paddle | Illinois RiverFor most of your time on the Illinois, you’ll see few if any other river runners. The intensity of Illinois River rafting trips keeps all but the most fierce away. The surrounding wilderness does as well. Deep canyons and rough rock ridges make for challenging terrain on foot and especially in the water. But as with other wild and remote locations on our earth, those who are ready to embrace all the Illinois has to offer will be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will shift your soul.

Illinois River Rafting Trip Rhythm

Expect a steady build-up over the course of the first couple of days to some of the most difficult rapids on any river we run (awesome Class IV/IV+ whitewater) by Day 3. The last day is generally pretty easy—whew!—so you can bliss out in that happy-exhausted feeling that comes after doing something hard and truly worthwhile.

Off the Rafts

Groover | Illinois River RaftingOnce we hit camp for the day, we might go for hikes. But after such epic days, we’re usually happy to relax in camp, talk about the day, and steep ourselves in the solitude and immense beauty surrounding us.

Flora & Fauna

NewtBears, Osprey, Bald Eagles, Mergansers, Rattle Snakes, Great Blue Herons, river otters, newts, sturgeon, salmon, deer. Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Madrone, Manzanita, Alder, Willows and many types of wildflowers. Lots of Bald Eagles and Osprey and of course Bear.

Land Acknowledgement

Our trips on the Illinois River travel through the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Tututuni and Takelma peoples. In particular, we we visit land ceded in the Treaty of 1853. We recognize current indigenous peoples and those who were removed from their homelands.

We operate under special use permit with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Additionally, we are an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Trip Highlights

  • The unforgettable blue-green color of the Illinois’ waters
  • Wonderfully isolated, wonderfully beautiful and rugged country
  • Run the Green Wall, one of the most famous rapids in the world

Quick Facts

  • The Illinois River flows through the rugged Kalmiopsis Wilderness
  • Declared a Wild and Scenic River in 1984
  • Challenging Class IV and IV+ rapids
  • Trips offered in April and May
  • Located near Crater Lake National Park, Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival, and Jacksonville’s Britt Festival

Trip Reviews

illinois Overall rating: ★★★★★ 5 based on 9 reviews.
5 1

Enthusiastic guides with love of rivers

I am so glad this company has an Illinois permit. The professionalism and general good character of these guides will have me coming back to this magical place with this team on an annual basis.
- Rebecca Post

Illinois River - Wow

My April 2019 trip with NW Rafting on the Illinois was outstanding. From start to finish the guides, rafting, camping, food were all terrific! And the Illinois is a gorgeous river.
- Science Kilner

Amazing 4 day trip

I just finished an amazing 4 day trip in the wilderness section of the Illinois River with Northwest Rafting Company. The canyon was more beautiful than I had imagined with crystal clear water, exciting rapids, and unique plants. The guides Zach, Courtney, Thomas, and Aaron were very professional, safety conscience and FUN ! The food was fantastic with appetizers before gourmet meals and delicious desserts. Totally mind blowing to eat so well in such a remote river canyon. I loved hearing from Zach about the history of the Illinois Rivers designation under the Wild and Scenic Act which happened in 1984 when I was living on the Illinois River at McCaleb Ranch. If you want to experience world class whitewater in a beautiful isolated river canyon I highly recommend NWRC !!
- Jamie Camden

Illinois River : Superb !!

Just got off a fantastic 4-day float with Zach and his crew. What a gorgeous river! The water is so clear, you can see to the bottom most of the time. The rapids were technical and tricky, but the guides make it look easy, even the Class fours and the Class five. Green Wall is a rush, but not the only rush; there are many great rapids every day. We saw lots of birds, including water ouzels (the rafters friend), and enjoyed a couple of great hikes with the guides; Zach took us on one hike high above the river to where the Kalmiopsis and the Pitcher plants were growing. The plants and the view were all marvelous. The camps were great and the food was too. The crew is fun to be with, and are competent and thoughtful in every way. This is a great company to go down a river with; everything was first-class, and I am so glad I got to go with them.
- Craig Watts

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