Spring Break: Float the Illinois

Feb 11, 2010
Outside Magazine
Illinois River, Oregon

Oregon's Illinois River   

Scenario: Sun Spell in the Northwest
Whitewater rafting in March? Yup, if it's on southwestern Oregon's Wild and Scenic Illinois River, a Class IV–V beauty that happens to be my favorite stretch of water in the Northwest. The key is catching the perfect flow. In March, that means a Pacific storm bringing three days of rain to raise the water level, followed by a splash of sun. Ashland-based Momentum River Expeditions knows when the Illinois is best. Call a month in advance and tell them you're flexible with your schedule so they have time to adjust for weather. Ask for their four-day wine-and-cheese float ($850; momentumriverexpeditions.com), which puts in two hours northwest of Ashland at Miami Bar and takes out 34 miles later at the confluence of the Illinois and the Rogue. Momentum will pack local syrah to complement Rogue Creamery cheeses. That's the pampering you'll want between picking your way through more than 80 rapids and one wild eight-foot waterfall.

Filed To: Rafting