Saturday, July 5, 2014

Roanoke River Blueway Impractical?

Nice rapids like this are rare on Roanoke River.
The local daily finally got around to doing a piece on the Roanoke River as a blueway this a.m. (here) and it's a good article as far as it goes. The most important point in any story like this is "can it be used effectively?" and the answer here is that the Roanoke River is far too rocky and low to be a good kayak/canoe river.

There is an intent to have "more attention given to water levels and how to improve them so users could get the most out of the river," but there's no explanation how that can be done. The river is not dam controlled, localities draw off water in the summer, and levels are extremely low on an already-shallow river.

It is a good river for brief paddles, tubing, local swimming and fishing. It is entirely too slow and non-challenging for veteran kayakers/canoers and frustratingly rocky and difficult for the inexperienced. It is not a dangerous river, from my experience, with Rapids through the main part of the valley reaching Class 2. Up near the Montgomery County line, there are a couple of sets of rapids that are far more challenging, but they don't constitute much of a "run" of three or four hours.

My guess is that short of dredging the rocky areas with a channel of, say seven feet in width, which the EPA simply will not allow in my estimation, there's not a lot that can be done with the river on a daily basis and that's too bad. It would be a lovely and convenient run if it were a little faster and a lot more fun. And it would be quite an economic lift.


  1. Yet another restating of the classic refrain about living here. It would be great if it wasn't Roanoke! As for the Roanoke River being a "Blue Way?"well, let's just say that's wishful thinking carried to a whole new level! We're just to far upstream for that to happen. Yes, the Roanoke can be a nice little paddle. There is a moment that happens a few days after a long and heavy rain when the mud has settled out when padding the Roanoke is actually fun. But that window, unless the rains have gone on for months, is tiny! Lasting anywhere from a few days to a few hours. Then it's right back to the meandering creek that makes visitors wonder about us when we call it "River. "

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