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Guided Paddle on the Rock River

Schedule and Location

Registration closes on June 6 at 11:59 p.m. Cancellations must be made prior to June 6 at 11:59 p.m. to receive a refund. 
RESCHEDULED to the rain date:  Saturday, June 22, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Originally scheduled for: Saturday, June 15, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (rain date June 22)
Meet offsite

Fees and Registration

$76.00 member
$88.00 nonmember
(Fees include admission to the Arboretum)

BY PHONE: 630-719-2468 ( Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Course Description

This program has been RESCHEDULED to the rain date of Saturday, June 22, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Please confirm your attendance at the rain date by contacting the Registrar's Office at 630-619-2468 by Tuesday, 6/18 so that we can reconfirm the head count. 

Paddle the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois, and learn the geology and natural history of this unique area. The Rock River Water Trail is a designated National Water Trail, and this outing passes through one of the most scenic stretches. Participants should be physically able to paddle down current for 4 hours on this moderately easy paddle.

We will launch in downtown Oregon, Illinois, and paddle about 9 miles down river to Grand Detour, passing through Castle Rock State Park and Lowden-Miller State Park along the way. Paddle beneath rocky, tree-lined bluffs, and look for bald eagles and the diverse waterfowl that call the river home.

We will end at a picnic area in Grand Detour, a charming community built on a bend of the river. This historic community is the site of the blacksmith shop of John Deere, who invented the first self-cleaning plow for farmers.  A shuttle will return us to the launch site. 

Boat rental, paddles, and life jackets provided, along with basic paddle instructions for those new to it. Expect to spend four hours on the water. Bring a sack lunch for a picnic afterwards while we wait for transportation back to our cars.

We will meet at the launch site at 9:00 a.m. sharp, where we will have a quick paddle lesson before hitting the water. Expect to return to your car by 3:00 p.m.

This program is part of the Arboretum’s Outdoor Skills and Adventure programs.



Course number



Dave Dolak, geologist
David Dolak is Professor of Instruction at the Department of Science and Math at Columbia College Chicago.  His environmental science graduate work covered the geology, water resources, and ecosystems at the Indiana Dunes National Park. He also has  geologic expertise in the bedrock geology and the glacial history of the Chicago area and the Mazon Creek fossils of  Northern Illinois. 
Prior to his career as an educator, Mr. Dolak was an Environmental Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory  and in a long ago, prehistoric time he was a mill-rat at US Steel in Gary Indiana.  He is an active outdoors adventurer, bicycling across the United States and around the Great Lakes and backpacking in many national parks.  His graduate degree is from Indiana University.

Course Details

  • Notes: Held outdoors. No experience required. Driving directions to launch site will be provided. Limit 18
  • Supplies: Please bring a sack lunch, beverage and snack. Wear secure sandals (flip flops not recommended) or shoes you don’t mind getting wet. Sunscreen and sun protection recommended.
  • Arboretum class weather, cancellation and refund policies
Guided Paddle on the Rock River