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 has not been the same here in Front Royal this year. Locals and tourists alike anticipated meandering through the glorious Shenandoah National Park, taking in the spectacular scenery and enduring rugged outdoor adventures. As a popular destination for weekenders in Warren County and nearby regions, drivers can ostensibly travel the 105-mile road in about three hours. But those three hours do not account for the enticement to stop, look, picnic, play or simply explore so much of what is Skyline Drive.
But all was changed on April 4, the day it was closed to motorists due to the coronavirus.
We missed the sounds of rumbling motorcycles coming in from I-66 transporting cruise riders, the Harley riders, and young-at-heart senior riders (good for them!). We missed the cars parked on the side while waiting for an order from Spelunker’s. We missed viewing the magnificent landscape dotted with flowering dogwood, redbud, and wild plum trees. We missed the trails artfully displaying colorful azaleas, pink-and-white mountain laurel, and hundreds of wildflowers carpeting the forest’s floor.
After many weeks and confusing federal and state guidelines, Shenandoah National Park will begin Phase Two of its phased reopening plan.
Phase Two: What You Need to Know
Beginning at 7:00 a.m. on June 11, 2020, Shenandoah National Park will reopen access to:
Concession-operated services will open as follows:
Beginning June 12, 2020, the Park will reopen access to:
With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:
Planning ahead is important.
Keep yourself and others safe by planning before coming to Shenandoah.
A few simple things can help ensure a safe visit.
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Shenandoah National Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips/, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
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 that picnic basket filled with your favorite foods. Do not forget the blanket, insect repellant, and a few rain ponchos. Your day to cruise Skyline Drive awaits.
And as the summer passes by so swiftly, the annuals in your garden will start to fade, the fireflies will take their final bow and the leaf peepers will back up traffic at the corner of South Royal Avenue and South Street.
It may have been a silent spring, but the roar of leather-clad motorcyclists and carloads of nature lovers won’t miss the must-take road trip this Fall.
Discover Front Royal