If you’re out on the Fox River, chances are you’re going to meet Brittany Tripp. An artist, avid outdoor enthusiast and Aurora resident, Brittany’s fondness for the Fox and the Aurora Area shows through in her commitment to education and community-building. We caught up with Brittany to ask about her favorite season to go paddling and to get tips for visitors looking to kayak the Fox River in the Aurora Area, from the Challenger Dam in Batavia on down to the Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville.
“I've lived in the Aurora area for about ten years now,” said Tripp. “Both of my kids were born here and we really love the community we've found in the Aurora Area. Over the years I've worked for some really great organizations, including the Fox Valley Park District, and have been able to balance that with staying home part of the time with my children.”
“The Aurora Area is great,” Tripp continued. “Every year it feels more like home to my family. I really love it right here in Downtown Aurora, too. There are cute cafes and museums and a beautiful new library. Plus, the First Friday of each month, businesses throughout downtown open their doors to host art galleries, pop-up shops, and live entertainment. The festival season keeps us entertained with art, music, and culture, so there’s a lot to love about living here.”
If I'm not coming up with some wild idea for one of my art projects, I'm usually out on the water.
Brittany Tripp is involved in the Aurora Mural Project and other community initiatives that promote public art in Illinois’ second-largest city. Her personal projects at the moment are Tripp Collective, which she describes as “a bit of an art project,” and Midwest Wild Women, an online community whose mission it is to connect, inspire, and empower women on an organizational and individual level.
“And of course I love the river. If I'm not coming up with some wild idea for one of my art projects, I'm usually out on the water. At least that's where I'd prefer to be,” Tripp said.
Every day is different because the river's always moving, always changing.
Brittany likes to go out on the Fox River at least once a week. If she can manage to snag some free time mid-week she’ll drop what she’s doing to float around a bit. Sunday mornings are a favorite. “I'll head out nice and early before the heat of the day. Usually I ask a friend if they want to meet up and paddle up river.
“I like that the Fox is so accessible for me. I live near Downtown Aurora so it's really convenient to either walk the kayak down to the water using the trailer my husband fashioned or throw the kayak on top of the car and just zip over there. Every day is different because the river's always moving, always changing. It can be a leisurely paddle or a real workout depending on conditions.”
Tripp’s favorite stretch of river ends with whitewater rapids. “If you put in south of the dam in Montgomery,” Tripp said, “it’s a great six or seven-mile stretch of river from there to the Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville. No dams, no portage, and plenty of great sights.”
Every season has something to offer on the Fox River, but Tripp’s favorite is autumn. “I am so looking forward to paddling in the fall. Something about the crispness of the air and geese migrating overhead and that golden autumn light filtering through the changing colors of the trees. To be fair, I think fall's my favorite season in general, but there’s really something special about kayaking the Fox River in every season.”
Brittany Tripp’s advice to visitors: Come paddle Aurora! “We have a great paddle shop in town, Rocktown Adventures, that can set you up with the gear and rentals that you need. Their knowledgeable staff can prepare you for the water. I do not work for them, I just have a high opinion of the shop based on renting there and past interactions with their staff.” And, as always, practice safe paddling. “If you own a kayak or canoe or other small watercraft, I'd just say you should familiarize yourself with the river. Know the locations of the dams, consider the weather conditions, water level, and temperature. And go for it! Be safe, have fun, and keep paddling.”
All photos in this article © Brittany Tripp.