rafting near Chicago
April 8, 2010 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a white water rafting and camping destination for a weekend trip from Chicago.

Trying to plan a bachelor's party for a buddy next month and have in mind driving somewhere for good camping and rafting. Our group has varying skill, experience and anxiety levels. One of us may not be able to take part in the rafting, so good campgrounds is a must as well.

Does anybody have any specific recommendations or general advice?

posted by AceRock to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Flying, I hope? Whitewater requires changes in elevation, so the flatter parts of the country are not so good.

I've rafted the New River in WV several times, and it's great fun. Also totally manageable for beginners.
posted by jon1270 at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2010

Oops, you're driving. Sorry.
posted by jon1270 at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2010

Are you driving? That's going to make things tough, unless you want a Big Giant Road Trip. These guys in Wisconsin are the only real option for rafting within an easy-ish drive. Otherwise, you're headed to West Virginia. You can rent a little raft at the East Race whitewater park in South Bend, IN, but that's absolutely not what you're looking for.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2010

If I remember correctly, some friends did a weekend with these guys a few years ago, and they have ATVs and a high ropes course and such that may let you do some extra things with your non-rafting buddy. Depending on what part of Chicago you're in, it would be a few hours' drive.

Otherwise, I'd google for Wisconsin Rafting--a number of hits came up there. It's not all that unusual to find class 4 rapids in the spring in Wisconsin, so don't feel you have to go to WV. Even the "flatter parts of the country" have parts that aren't so flat...
posted by BlooPen at 9:34 AM on April 8, 2010

There is one place to go whitewater rafting in Illinois: the stretch of the Vermilion River from Lowell to Oglesby. This will be a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive for you depending on the traffic. This outfitter runs rafts, and I've heard great things about the trip, but please call them first. A concrete company that owns some of the land has been causing problems, and the outfitter will know more about that. If you go with this idea, you'll be near Starved Rock and Mathiesson State Parks, both with a lot of great hiking and other activities for you. The camping itself is not great, but you could get a cabin at Starved Rock for the group.

If the drive to better whitewater proves too long, consider a canoe or tubing trip. You'll have a ton of options, and your whitewater-phobic friend may be more up for it. I've tubed on the Wolf River in Wisconsin and I've canoed the Fox River in Illinois. Your group would still have a blast, but you'd not spend so much time on the road.
posted by TrarNoir at 10:16 AM on April 8, 2010

Oh yeah, I forgot about the Wolf. You can rent a raft and run section 4 on your own. Here are some more details on the Wolf. Here is the Peshtigo, which might be the most interesting raftable run in the area when it's at high water. It'll be far more interesting than the Vermilion, though that's obviously a closer option.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2010

Wolf River is fun. :-)
posted by RedEmma at 11:36 AM on April 8, 2010

easy canoeing is much better in the chicago area than anything approaching white water. Fox River is good, as is the area by Starved Rock. In Indiana, Turkey Run State Park has a nice canoeing area.

When I'm looking for new nearby areas to canoe / kayak, I do google maps searches for businesses with that in their names. That's how I found kayakchicago.com and chicagoriverpaddle.com. In fact, these guys organize trips to farther out areas, so that might be another recourse you can take depending on your timing. At the very least, they wil probably be able to refer you to the best local places for what you want to do.
posted by garlic at 10:24 AM on April 14, 2010

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