Virginia has scenic shorelines along the ocean and Chesapeake Bay. But, how about our beautiful rivers?

The Virginia Tourism Corporation reports that the commonwealth has some great river trips for leisure water activities as well as whitewater adventures for the more daring. Here are some of the suggestions from their “Virginia’s Rivers” page.

  • Virginia has plenty of whitewater rivers throughout its western mountain regions, such as the Clinch, Shenandoah and New Rivers, which afford river-running activities for paddlers of all levels of experience – from the novice to the expert.
  • Lying at the base of Virginia’s mountains are piedmont rivers that meander through remote woodlands, many with small islands and intermediate levels of whitewater where they cross the fall line.
  • The New River in the southwest region of Virginia flows through gorgeous mountain scenery surrounded by tall rock cliffs and deep gorges and moves northward from North Carolina to West Virginia, eventually spilling into the Mississippi. Floating the New is truly a step back in time, as it is the second oldest river in the world.
  • Some of the New River is fast whitewater, but shallow, mild rapids that require relatively easy paddling for novices, large groups and families.
  • Fishing is excellent, and the New River teems with almost every variety of freshwater game fish found in Virginia, such as rock bass, striped bass, yellow perch, bluegill and flathead catfish.
  • The Rappahannock, Nottoway and James Rivers provide beautiful landscapes that appear much as they did when Caucasian settlers first arrived in Virginia. Most piedmont rivers are floatable year-round and offer excellent fishing and opportunities to witness nature in its finest glory.
  • The James River is different from most piedmont rivers because it flows through the heart of Richmond’s urban district over a 7-mile shelf of granite, dropping more than 100 feet over the fall line where it changes to tidal waters.
  • Moving gently in some areas and over whitewater rapids in others, the James is the longest, most historic river in Virginia, flowing beneath Civil War train trestles and modern-day bridges with panoramic cityscapes and breathtaking natural beauty as backdrops.
  • If you venture to the Upper James River, you’ll find more leisurely waters – those good for tubing, casual canoeing, and water play. The Upper James River Water Trail winds beautifully through the scenic Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • East of the piedmont region lies Virginia’s flat coastal plains where rivers are perfect for explorers seeking a more intimate, leisurely river experience.
  • Other coastal rivers have retained their original Indian names, such as the Mattaponi, Pamunkey and Chickahominy. The word “canoe” is also derived from an Indian word “kenu,” a boat that has been around for thousands of years. Except for a few minor modifications, the canoe’s basic engineering retains much of its original design and is still ideal for traveling Virginia’s calm, tranquil, coastal rivers.
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