Illinois River Rafting

One of the great wilderness trips in the country - some say the best


4 days


April - early May


Class IV+ (V):
For the experienced and adventurous beginner in good physical condition.
Minimum age 14




Rafting, Hiking


Medford OR (MFR)


Ashland/Medford, OR

Southern Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Illinois River is considered by some to be the best wilderness rafting trip in the country. Few rivers can match its combination of extreme isolation, solitude (we can only take 24 people a year down this river), beauty, and whitewater. The Illinois features crystal clear water, countless waterfalls tumbling into the river, a spectacular canyon with steep walls draped in moss and ferns, and world-class pool drop whitewater. This rafting trip is what wilderness river running is all about and we are honored to offer it.

Momentum Illinois Trips
Oregon's Illinois River with Klondike Peak in the background - Photo: Pete WallstromThe Illinois is a classic Momentum spring trip. Remote, very rarely run, with the kind of challenging logistics that we relish. We have built a reputation for innovative and comfortable camping in wilderness places and for creative menus featuring local and organic produce & products. We truly love showing people this place. Please call if you have any questions about this amazing adventure!


Our Illinois Rafting Trips were featured in Outside Magazine

The Illinois begins at the crest of the Siskiyou Mountains along the Oregon California border. The river then makes a very brief run through civilization before tumbling through the coastal mountains of the vast Kalmiopsis Wilderness (where we begin our trip). This section is one of the most inaccessible stretches of river in the country and the canyons and mountains are as rugged and steep as any in Oregon.

There is a ton of amazing whitewater with eleven class IV drops, one class V (the infamous “Green Wall”) and countless others. The rapids are a perfect combination of giant boulders, big holes, steep drops, and crystal clear crashing waves.

Our Illinois trips are done with Momentums’ signature style, attention to detail, and handcrafted quality. With comfortable and innovative wilderness camping, creative menus, personal service and hospitality, one of the most experienced (and friendly) guide staffs in the world, and with all the little details and touches we are known for.

There are no dams on the Illinois and it is fed by a relatively low elevation snow pack so the rafting season is April through early May before the water drops too low. Because of this, a journey down the Illinois can also be a test of rain gear – it’s the Pacific Northwest in spring! However with the right gear (we will help you with that) and the right attitude, the rainiest of trips will still be remembered as trip of a life time. And if everything comes together and the trip is enjoyed under blue skies this canyon is as close to paradise as you will find.

You by no means need to be an expert to raft the Illinois – adventurous first timers in good physical condition are more then welcome. However this trip is a true adventure and all guests need to be ready for inclement weather and most of all need to bring an adventurous spirit.

Please Note:
– The water levels on the Illinois fluctuate wildly and can rise to un-raftable levels in less then a day. Because of this it is possible that we may be forced to run an alternate stretch at the last minute.
– Trips are kept very small with a 2 or 3 to one guest to guide ratio.
– We can only take 24 people down a year so trips fill very quickly.


• This is the kind of trip we are known for – remote and off the beaten path. It is a 'backyard' river for us and we know it extremely well.
• A small company committed to amazing trips & our wild places.
• Safety: All our guides have a minimum 5 years of experience leading trips around the world.
• Creative menus: featuring local and organic produce & products.
• All inclusive: all camping gear included if needed (comfortable 3” sleeping pads).
• Overall comfort: Innovative wilderness camping, attention to detail, & our signature hospitality.
• A remote river that highlights our guiding experience, expedition roots, & attention to detail.
• Most importantly - we are friendly, we love what we do, and it shows.

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Recent Testimonials

  • "This was by far the most exciting whitewater I'd ever been on, the meals were both tasty and healthy and the guides highly qualified and personable. I give them and the river 5 stars, but the weather only 2." - Carl Schnoor
  • "I can't say enough about my recent trip with Momentum on the Illinois, it was an adventure in the truest sense of the word. We caught heavy rain at our first campsite (Pine Creek) which spiked the river flow; we basically waited 2 days for the flow to normalize before proceeding into the class IV section. Cooper and Andy were fabulous, hard-working guides with big hearts and a strong commitment to maximizing the experience for the guests. Early in the trip, I had commented that my wife collects stones from various places we've been. Andy remembered that and gave me a cool one to bring back home to my wife at the end of the trip. I was shocked - who does that sort of thing these days? The Klondike Creek campground was like paradise; I did not want to leave! This was not my first trip with Momentum, so I know how good the food is. But this was my first multi-day, and I was astonished how good and varied the food was over the 4 days. I have traveled a ton and have had a multitude of outdoor experiences. In my experience, Momentum provides exceptional service. I would highly recommend Momentum to family and friends, and am eager for my next multi-day with you, perhaps the Cal Salmon." - SG
  • "We just returned from an epic 4 day Momentum rafting trip down the Illinois river. This was a fantastic experience and an incredible bargain based on all we got for our money. We were led by 2 awesome guides who made us feel pampered even though we were in the middle of a wilderness area. Cooper is a natural leader with a charismatic personality combined with outstanding technical skills. He was a wealth of knowledge about the natural history of the area and was also a great teacher of rafting and paddling technique. Andy is a perfect southern gentlemen who is so strong he should be on the cover of a box of Wheaties. I had complete confidence in these 2 fine young men who kept us safe and made this one of my favorite trips ever. We are already planning our next Momentum trip. WTG Andy and Cooper!" - DD
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