We’re all limiting our social interactions due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the Dan River region has opportunities to pursue outdoor adventures individually or in twosies and threesies.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite destinations and activities here to provide a safe but effective cure for cabin fever. Y’all stay safe out there. And of course, make sure to check with the Centers for Disease Control for the latest recommendations and best practices to prepare for and deal with the virus.
Rock climb at Hanging Rock State Park
As of now, Hanging Rock State Park’s trails and cliffs remain open, although its visitors center and campground are closed.
Hanging Rock State Park offers world-class rock climbing at two primary sites. Moore’s Wall is the park’s more high-profile climbing destination. Moore’s Wall features quartzite rock and overhanging lines, along with multiple routes and areas in which to play. Each has its own character and offers a different climbing experience.
Cook’s Wall requires a long hike to access but is home to many climbing routes. Choose from four distinct sections: Cookbook, Lower Wall, West Walls (aka Cooks Fin), and Devil’s Chimney.
Rock climbing in Hanging Rock does require a permit, so check out the park’s website and check in with rangers before hitting the cliffs. Read more in our rock-climbing story.
Braided with rivers and streams that run through mountains and foothills, the Dan River region makes for excellent birding.
Birding trails and sites can be found on both the North Carolina and Virginia sides of the state line. The region’s varied geography makes for great birding and wildlife watching. Check out our list of birding hotspots.
Go for a float on a river
The Dan River Basin is home to a unique heritage and culture, but the rivers shaped its topography and history. Mark Bishopric, co-founder of Three Rivers Outfitters, LLC, recommends floats for paddlers of all experience levels. Read more about floating our local rivers.
Visit one of the lakes of the Dan River State Crossings region
If you like lakes, you’ll find a lot to love about the Dan River State Crossings region. While Southern Virginia and Piedmont North Carolina are defined largely by the Dan and Smith rivers, they’re also home to awesome lakes, where you can fish, boat and enjoy other activities.
Enjoy our dark skies and stellar stars
There’s nothing like watching stars in a dark sky on a cool evening in the warm months. And there’s no better place to view the majesty of the night sky than Staunton River State Park, which in 2015 was designated as an International Dark Sky Park. As of today, it and other Virginia State Parks remain open.
Hit the trails on a mountain bike
The State Crossings region runs thick with mountain bike trails, with opportunities for beginners and hardcore riders both. Whether it’s technical singletrack in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains or a lazy dirt road ride in the woods along one of the many waterways that flow into the Dan, you’ll find your flow and mountain biking nirvana in the Dan River region. Read more about our mountain biking trails.
One of our favorite biking hotspots is I.C. DeHart Park in Patrick County, Virginia. The park includes two loops that offer a multitude of ride options. The route used for Shiner’s Revenge XXC and Bootlegger’s Blitz XC offers a taste of everything, and 90 percent of the route is singletrack. The park is located on the former estate of Isaac C. DeHart, who operated a roller and grist mill and legal distillery.
Look for spring wildflowers
Every spring, the mountains and rolling hills of the Dan River basin sparkle with color as wildflowers bloom.
For visitors and residents alike, wildflower season offers a sublime mark of spring. The various species appear as old friends, blooming with clockwork precision as the earth moves from winter into summer. Read our story on what tends to bloom when, and where to look.
Paddle the Smith River, a blueway trail that is also green
Henry County, Virginia’s Smith River Trail System includes a scenic blueway with 10 river access points and more than 20 miles of greenway. Enjoy a calm float or more adventurous paddling on the river, with Class I, II, and III rapids. Kayaking, fishing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities can be found on the blueway. Read more about the Smith River Blueway.
Follow a quilt trail
The State Crossings region celebrates its agriculture, artistic and cultural heritage with quilt trails in Rockingham County, North Carolina, and Patrick County, Virginia.
The Rockingham County Quilt Trail takes you over rolling farmland, through forests, across rivers and into towns and villages. Follow it to see all 30 authentic quilt blocks on barns and farm outbuildings.
The Patrick County Barn Quilt Trail consists of 40 Patrick County families, businesses and organizations who have put up decorative barn quilts on their property.