For those looking for a new perspective to enjoy the New River Valley, on the water may be your best bet. Traversing the landscape with the flow of water takes the visitor on a new journey with scenic landscapes, historical adventures, and easy fun for all ages.
We start on the Little River, a tributary of the New River. In Floyd County, the Little River provides a gentle float for canoes, kayaks and tubes. On The Water near downtown Floyd provides group rentals and outfitting for trips on this mountain waterway. Easy access on Route 8 through Floyd connects travelers to Interstate 81.
Another prime, but slightly different, water experience in the NRV is found at Pulaski County’s Claytor Lake and Claytor Lake State Park. Claytor Lake, off I-81 at exit 101, is a 4,475-acre reservoir in the New River. The Little River joins the New River just downstream of the lake. Guests here can enjoy boating, kayaking, standup paddleboarding and a variety of activities and special events. One favorite is floating live musical performances that guests can paddle up to and enjoy. Mountain 2 Island at Rock House Marina offers standup paddleboards, kayaks and canoes to get you out on the water.
Leaving Claytor Lake and flowing north, the New River wraps around the small City of Radford. This “River City” is home to Bisset Park where river access is public and easy. Wading, tubing and paddling in the New River here is easy-going and slow-moving. There is ample access and parking for the 90-acre Bisset Park along the shore of the New River. Off Route 11, turn onto Berkeley Williams Drive near downtown Radford.
Continuing north, paddlers enter Montgomery County where public river access points include the popular Whitethorne Landing in McCoy. Additionally, you can visit New River Junction for tube and shuttle service or to play at McCoy Falls. The Junction is accessible via Prices Fork Road, then turning on McCoy Road and finally on Big Falls Road. Whether bringing your own vessel, looking to rent, or just interested in playing in the New River water, Montgomery County is an excellent base for fun.
Rounding out the New River Valley is Giles County. With 37 miles of the New River, Giles offers singular trips or longer excursions. From one of the newest boat landings at Eggleston, paddlers can enjoy ripples and rapids as they take in iconic and dramatic scenery from the water, departing in Pembroke for a 4-hour float. With outfitters and guides available and easy accessibility from U.S. 460 in Pembroke, paddlers have rentals, advice, maps and shuttles to assure a unique water adventure in the New River Valley.
Local favorite water memories:
Pat – Floyd County Tourism Director: I love being on the water, so it is always fun – and SO relaxing. One of my favorite adventures was the first time I floated on the Little River. I was awed by the incredible rock formations along a gentle smaller river.
Peggy – Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce: A favorite memory and adventure is river kayaking below Foster Falls to Claytor Lake through Pulaski County and enjoying a picnic along the way.
Deb – Radford City Tourism Director: My kids grew up along the New River, and one our favorite after-dinner activities in the summer is heading out in search of unique rocks and native crawfish and wading in the water.
Lisa – Montgomery Regional Tourism Director: A fond memory from the 1980s is when the New River Junction opened and spending time with friends along the river with our tubes. Memories made.
Cora – Giles County Tourism Director: I had grown up around creeks and rivers, but moving here and experiencing the cliffs in Eggleston or tubing out of Pembroke, I knew this was special, it was fun!
Photos by Billy Bowling