Now that the imposed limitations from COVID-19 are almost behind us and summer is on its way, having fun outdoors can mean being on or in the water. Canoeing and kayaking are not only great for seeing picturesque views, but a wonderful way to relax and destress from the hectic pace of day-to-day life. Finding peace and quiet on the water is all part of the overall experience.
With one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of America’s landscape, the Blue Ridge Mountains, for its backdrop, the Shenandoah River is undoubtedly what so many residents and nature-loving people enjoy most about Front Royal. In 1999, Front Royal received the honor of being named the “Canoe Capital of Virginia”. The river is controllable for beginners but includes expanses of thrills as well. The canoe has been used for trade and transportation along the river since the earliest recorded history in the Valley, so enjoy the history, beauty, and tradition that canoeing entails in the Shenandoah Valley.
Front Royal is fortunate to have two forks of the river running through our land:
The South Fork Shenandoah is a popular destination for canoeists and kayakers. The nearness of the river to the more urban areas of Virginia and the bucolic beauty of the valley attracts thousands each year. Several canoe outfitters operate on the South Fork and traffic can be heavy on certain sections of the river during the summer months. Twenty (20) public access points along the entire length of the river creates the opportunity to plan many different float trips of varying distances.
The North Fork is a relatively small, shallow river and is very accessible to wade angling. This part of the river is ideal to float, canoe or kayak. Clear water, pleasant scenery, abundant wildlife, and mild whitewater make the North Fork a paddler’s dream.
Fishing opportunities on the North Fork:
Consider these other benefits of canoeing and kayaking in the Front Royal’s portion of the Shenandoah River:
Prior to jumping into your canoe, don’t forget these necessary and practical health and safety tips for canoeing and kayaking:
Canoe outfitters along the Shenandoah River normally provide a shuttle service, drop you off and let you float back a chosen distance to the outfitter headquarters. Looking for a local Front Royal shop to help?
Some combination of canoes, kayaks, inner tubes, rafts and paddleboards, may be rented from Front Royal Outdoors, Downriver Canoe Company or Shenandoah River Outfitters.
Launching your own vessel is popular, too, and many access points/boat ramps are found in or near Front Royal.
One of Virginia’s many state parks is nearby as well—the 1600-acre Shenandoah River State Park. It is located eight miles south of town on Route 340, offering miles of riverfront and mountain trails for hiking and mountain biking, as well as cabin rentals, a new zipline and tent camping.
From beautiful mountains, lush pastoral farmland and glistening river waters, Front Royal’s nature will astonish both young and old. Mark your calendar, Friday, June 26th is National Canoe Day! Make it a weekend getaway by renting a cabin, staying in a nearby Bed & Breakfast, and or local hotel. Now is the time to plan your trip to enjoy a river experience in the Canoe Capital of Virginia!
Celebrating Spring was not the same here in Front Royal last year. Locals and tourists alike missed wandering through the spectacular Shenandoah National Park, taking in the stunning scenery and enduring rugged outdoor adventures. As a popular destination for weekenders in Warren County and nearby regions, drivers could travel the 105 mile road in about three hours. Those three hours did not account for the temptation to stop, look, picnic, play or simply explore so much of what is Skyline Drive.
But finally, the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive and all trails are now open. Everyone needs a change of scenery, especially after a year of confinement. If you only have one day to spare, consider a day trip from Front Royal to some amazing nearby destinations - small towns, wineries, challenging hiking trails, and gorgeous mountain landscapes—all within three hours of the entrance to Skyline Drive.
Soon rumbling motorcycles will come in from I-66 transporting cruise riders, the Harley riders and young-at-heart senior riders. Cars will park on the side while waiting for an order from Spelunker’s. We will see the magnificent landscape dotted with flowering dogwood, redbud, and wild plum trees. We will travel the trails artfully displaying colorful azaleas, pink-and-white mountain laurel and hundreds of wildflowers strewn on the forest’s floor.
Updated March 8, 2021
Now that the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and all trails are open, please recreate responsibly by following the guidelines below. Park facilities are beginning to open for the spring season. Please refer to our operating hours for more information on opening dates and hours for visitor centers, dining areas, lodges, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
When recreating, please follow local area health orders and recreate responsibly by keeping social distance, wearing a face covering when social distance cannot be maintained, avoiding high risk activities, and staying home if you feel sick.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all Park functions and recommend that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Be sure to plan. Before visiting Shenandoah National Park, plan to keep safe.
To help navigate the park, download the Park App, as well as the offline content, before arriving in the park.
Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website www.nps.gov/shen and social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/shenandoahnps/, https://twitter.com/ShenandoahNPS, and https://www.instagram.com/shenandoahnps/. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please visit www.goshenandoah.com for updates about park concessioner, Delaware North’s operations.
As the weather gets warmer and the dangers of the coronavirus are lessened, grab a picnic basket filled with your favorite foods. Do not forget the blanket, insect repellant and a few rain ponchos. Your day to tour Skyline Drive awaits.
It may have been a silent spring last year, but the roar of excited crowds and fragrance of nature’s beauty beckons you to take a must-take road trip this Spring.
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