Let’s Take a Trip: Shenandoah River

June 24, 2021

Written by Katy Ward, Assistant Director of Outdoor Adventure

It’s starting to get warm again. It is time to get outside and explore new adventures. So, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go? Do you have a list of places you want to knock out? Or are you open to new possibilities? Well, here I am, giving you a new trip idea, one that I myself have not tried but is on my list!

A 3-day, 28-mile river trip down the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Whether you prefer a kayak or a canoe, this river provides a diverse set of challenges and beautiful scenery. Between slow and peaceful waters and fast class II-III rapids, this trip is good for beginners or experts.

If you want to take this trip but do not have the gear for it, check out Hydaway Outdoor Center’s Rental List for all of your trip needs!

What’s the Plan?


  • 8 A.M. ­– Leave Lynchburg
  • 10:30 A.M. – Arrive at Bentonville Boat Ramp to drop your shuttle vehicle
  • 10:30 A.M. – Leave Bentonville for Bixler Bridge in Luray, VA
  • 11 A.M. – Arrive at Bixler Bridge
  • 11:15 A.M. – Set out down the Shenandoah for 13 miles
  • 1:30 P.M. – Stop for lunch whenever feels right
  • 6:30 P.M. – Pull out river left at The Sandy Beach near High Cliff Rapids just in time for sunset
  • 7 P.M. – Enjoy a nice night camping on the river with your favorite campfire meal


  • Wake up and make some camp pancakes (or whatever camp breakfast sounds great to you!)
  • Send out on the river for a 4-mile stretch (this section has some fun class II-III rapids)
  • Pull off to river left at Beach’s Bottom Beach
  • Spend the rest of your day in the swimming hole or going down the rapids again
  • Camp here tonight and get ready for the rest of your journey tomorrow


  • Wake up and make a fresh pot of coffee to start the day right
  • Pack your gear up and start out on the final leg of your journey
  • Float 10 miles of peaceful river
  • Pull off to the Bentonville Boat Ramp on river left, just after the bridge
  • Load up your gear and hit the road back home

What Should You Bring?

A packing list for this trip will depend greatly on the weather, but here are some good things to pack in general. Adapt this list to fit the needs of you and your group.

Personal Items

  • 3 days’ worth of clothes for the river (think synthetics)
  • 3 days’ worth of clothes suitable for sandy beach camping
  • A swimsuit
  • A rain jacket
  • Hat and sunglasses to protect yourself against the sun
  • Necessary toiletries, especially sunscreen!
  • 1-2 towels


  • Water — Probably the most important thing to pack. Stay hydrated! Pack enough water to supply ½ your body weight in ounces for 3 days.
  • Food — Pack enough food for 6 meals and snacks too (our favorite snacks at Outdoor Adventure are fruit snacks and Slim Jims, just in case you were wondering).
  • A Tent — Make sure it’s large enough to fit you and your gear
  • Dry Bags — To make sure your stuff stays out of the water
  • A Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
  • First Aid Kit — It is important not only to have a FAK, but also to know how to use what is in it. Make sure to freshen up on what you have and why you have it.
  • 1-2 Trash Bags — Take all of your trash with you please! Do not dirty our waterways or campsites because you’re not paying attention, if you pack it in, you need to pack it out.
  • A River Map — Your phone may let you down, so print out a paper copy of your route and laminate it so it is waterproof.
  • Canoe/Kayak + Paddles — This may seem obvious, but sometimes you can forget the most important part of your travel.

Now Let’s Go!

Wait, hold on, a couple more things. Before you go out on any trip, make sure someone knows where you are going and knows your itinerary. Should something happen to you and they don’t hear from you by the agreed time, they should send help. Be prepared and be safe.

Okay, now you can go. Have fun!