River Deep, Mountain High

Virginia cities rank in the national top three of urban kayaking destinations.

Kyle LaFerriere

Virginia Living Magazine Clinch River Outfitters

WHEN YOU THINK OF KAYAKING, you might picture paddling out on the ocean or in a serene lake, but urban kayaking is a fantastic way to get outdoors while seeing a city in a new way.

The James River in Richmond and the Roanoke River in Roanoke are among the most popular destinations for urban kayaking nationwide, according to USA Today’s 2021 10 Best Readers’ Choice poll. Virginia’s capital ranks in second place, after the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. “Richmond is a fantastic urban setting to enjoy and explore by kayak,” says Bill Street of the James River Association. “From the tranquil waters of Huguenot Flatwater to the Class IV whitewater of Hollywood and Pipeline rapids, Richmond has it all.”

The Roanoke stretch of the 45-mile Roanoke River Blueway comes third in the poll. “With its unique proximity to downtown Roanoke and access to many local trails, attractions, restaurants and breweries, it is a gem for our region,” says Taylor Spellman, director of public relations with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.


This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue.

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