The Dan River Basin is home to a unique heritage and culture, but it’s the rivers that shaped both the topography and history of the region.
This September 14-15, 2018, Eden, North Carolina, will pay tribute to its rivers with its 15th annual RiverFest. The two-day event celebrates Eden’s art, history, and river heritage with live music, dancing, a beard and mustache contest, archery, food, and of course river excursions.
This year’s festival also includes a release by the Carolina Raptor Center, Melanie Paschal’s Dance Creations, a fashion show, artisans and crafters, local characters, amusements, gravity ball, virtual kayaking, knockerball, and two stages of live music both days, with the Pizazz Band headlining on Friday and Eagles tribute band On the Border on Saturday.
The expert’s view
For an insider’s look at the rivers that give RiverFest its name, we reached out to Mark Bishopric, co-founder of Three Rivers Outfitters, LLC.
Three Rivers Outfitters was started in 2004 by Mark, Jeff Johnston and Steve Rippey. Mark and Jeff continue to manage the business, with Steve and Julia Pyron helping out from time to time. Jeff Johnston was one of the founding members of the Dan River Basin Association, and its first president. Mark Bishopric has been a member of DRBA since its inception in 2002, and a long time officer and current board member. Mark also is president of Irvine River Company, a local hydroelectric company. Jeff and Mark have both been canoeing and kayaking for more than 50 years and enjoy helping others learn the joy of being on the river whether with a group of friends or for a quiet day with nature.
Troublesome Creek Outfitter moved its retail store into the Three Rivers Outfitters shop in 2007, and both businesses continue to operate at 413 Church Street in Eden. Their location on the Smith River, approximately two miles above the confluence of the Smith and Dan Rivers, gives them great access to the waterways that form the heart of the Dan River Basin.
Three Rivers Outfitters regularly schedules and operates 26 different trips on the Smith, Dan and Mayo Rivers, across six counties all located within the Dan River Basin. The day trips vary from 2 miles to 20 miles, mostly within 30 miles of Eden. Overnight trips range from 10 to 70 miles, with primitive camping on islands or sandbars on the river. The business also offers trips on the Haw River in Rockingham and Alamance Counties, part of the Cape Fear River Basin.
With so many different trip options, the outfitters can always find a place that has enough water to paddle. They run trips seven days a week, year-round. Shop hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the primary boating season and Saturdays the rest of the year, and by appointment.
We asked Mark for some of his recommendations for visitors to Eden and the Dan River Basin.
Local places to eat:
Since our trips are throughout the area, many customers eat in Eden, Danville, Madison, Reidsville, and Martinsville, all within 15 miles of most of our trips.
Local places to stay:
Matrimony Creek trail and Smith River Greenway in Eden. Gravely Nature Preserve in Ridgeway, Virginia. Chinqua Penn Walking Trail in Wentworth, North Carolina.
Paddle the confluence of the Smith and Dan by paddling upriver from the Leaksville Wildlife Boating Access, located on Bethlehem Church Road, this is also a takeout for short canoe or kayak trips trips that can start at Leaksville Landing (Dan River) or Island Ford Landing (Smith River), or our Three Rivers Outfitters shop location. Enjoy swimming or fishing while on the Smith and Dan Rivers on these short trips.
For more experienced paddlers:
Enjoy the class 1 or class 2 sections of river on either the Mayo River or the Smith River, just up river from Eden, NC.
Guided trips (1.5 miles) from Leaksville Landing to Leaksville Wildlife Boating Access; Unguided trips (10 miles) from Settles Bridge Access to Leaksville Wildlife Boating Access, other trips as scheduled.
Looking for more ways to explore the waterways of the Dan River Basin? Check out these past trip ideas at Dan River State Crossings: