The first day of your Illinois River trip begins with deceptively quiet water until you get around the first corner. Then the excitement begins! Although we won’t hit the big-name rapids until tomorrow, the whitewater in this first day’s run offers plenty of thrills and high energy. During the first couple of miles we’ll see the last of the riverside trail. The canyon is steep, and the forest is old. It’s obvious this place has successfully retained its rugged, untouched beauty.
As the river twists, beginning to constrict and drop, the rapids intensify and come closer together. By the time we reach the first camp, the last vestiges of civilization are far behind us. Even if the springtime weather is cool or rainy in the evenings, our cozy camps are warm and comfortable havens where it’s easy for you to relax and imagine what the Pacific Northwest was like when most of it was as uninhabited as it is here.
Days 2 & 3
We spend the second day in the heart of the wild section of the Illinois Canyon. Since our top priority is your safety, our experienced guides will stop to scout a couple of these rapids, as swiftly changing water levels and the ravages of each winter’s high water can radically change a rapid’s characteristics. It is possible that due to high water conditions or obstructions, the guides may judge some rapids to be unsafe. In this event, you’ll walk around the rapid while the guides either line the boats through, portage, or run the rapids.
At the Green Wall, one of the most famous rapids in the area, everyone stops for a look. Routes are chosen and scouted. At high or low water, this rapid demands and earns respect. Our guides have seen this river and this rapid at almost every runnable level, and the intensely powerful and dramatic natural setting assures an exciting run at any level. In a league of its own, this rapid makes a visual impression that won’t easily be forgotten.
Below Green Wall, rapids we’ve named It Ain’t Over Yet, Let’s Make a Deal, and Submarine Hole ensure that the excitement never wanes. Our second night in camp offers the opportunity for relaxation, retelling and reliving some of the day’s highlights, as our crew prepares another great, hot meal.
Although the last day’s rapids begin to relent after the first couple miles, there is plenty to see besides whitewater as we drift past the myriad of waterfalls cascading down the steep walls of the lower gorge. A few miles later the canyon noticeably widens and becomes less steep and a bit of that wild flavor begins to subside. It’s a bittersweet feeling. You’ve challenged the biggest rapids the Illinois has to offer but the trip is coming to an end. Around the last bend, we take out at a bench called Oak Flat where the shuttle rigs await.