When you need to leave the concrete mountains of the city and get your breath taken away by nature rather than a taxi nearly clipping your keister, consider a drive to a rafting area in neighboring states. Start out early in the day, enjoy the drive and the challenge of maneuvering waves rather than the summer crowds. Additional options are here.
(Photo Credit: wildmanresort.com)

(Photo Credit: wildmanresort.com)

Wildman Adventure Resort
N. 12080 Allison Lane
Athelstane, WI 54104
(715) 757-2938

The Menominee River whitewater rafting trip runs daily for three hours of riding some of the feistiest whitewater rapids in the Midwest. Wildman’s Ken Neuman says, “The great thing about the rapids through Piers Gorge is that the water levels are controlled by a dam so we have great rapids all through the summer months when people are looking to travel.”  You’ll be in a raft with up to eight of your friends with an experienced guide piloting you through the rapids. The Menominee River Wild Ride, unique to Wildman, takes place in a four person raft, so the rapids are even more thrilling. Spend half the day on the river and the other half riding zip lines, rock climbing, playing paintball or attempt the mud obstacle course. Stay in a cabin or a riverside campsite before your five hour drive back to Chicago.

Wolf River Via Shotgun Eddy
N. 2765 Highway 55
White Lake, WI 54491
(715) 882-4461

A family-owned business since 1972, Shotgun Eddy takes its name from the rapids located just a piece up river from its office. The Smokey Falls excursion, rated highly for Midwestern rafting, is a 12-mile trip of Class III-IV rapids meaning strong to extreme currents, high whitewaters and big drop plus waterfalls to maneuver. The Wolf River is undeveloped and offers an authentic wilderness experience. There’s a very rustic campground along the Wolf River, otherwise you can snooze in a local motel.

(Photo Credit: kosirs.com)

(Photo Credit: kosirs.com)

Kosir’s Rapid Rafts & Campground
Co Road C
Athelstane, WI 54104
(715) 757-3431

Try your stamina on a series of Class III rapids appropriately named Horse Race, First Drop (a real doozy), S-Curve and Five-Foot Falls on the Peshtigo River. In the business of whitewater rafting on the Peshtogo and Menominee Rivers since 1975, Kosir’s staff has encyclopedic knowledge of rafting, safety and the gorgeous northern Wisconsin woods and water. The size of the raft is determined daily according to water levels and summer trips on the river are super affordable – $25-$30 per person including helmets, paddles, life jackets and a lift to to the put-in point on the river.

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Northwoods Adventures
N. 4017 US Highway 2
Iron Mountain, Michigan 49801
(906) 563-5450

Whether you’re a first-timer or an advanced whitewater rafter, Northwoods’ guides make the half-day trip on the Menominee River even better: each boasts at least 3000 river miles and 600 hours and many are naturalists and historians, so you’re in for a mental, physical and emotional adventure. Northwoods also offers stand up paddleboarding and duckie rentals (inflatable kayaks) allowing for a solo adventure on the river.

Charles City WhiteWater At Riverfront Park
700 Riverside Drive
Charles City, IA 50616
(641) 228-4234

Riverfront Park, which opened in 2011, has three features. There’s a Dam Drop that’s appropriate for beginning to intermediate paddlers; Doc’s Drop, which is described as a “powerful and aggressive freestyle hole,” so leave the kids and newbies behind for this one; and the Exit Exam, which is another fine choice for less experienced paddlers. The course is free, open year round 24/7, but you need to bring your own gear and watercraft.

Related:  5 Camping Gear Must Haves For Summer Vacations

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.