River Access

Tap here for a map of access points on the Smith, Mayo, and Dan rivers in Rockingham County as well as local outfitters.

With four rivers providing more than 60 miles of flowing waters, Rockingham County, North Carolina is a haven for water lovers. Our rivers offer an alternative to whitewater with recreational canoeing, kayaking or tubing for all skill levels. Here, you can have a leisurely float on calm water or find thrills across Class II and III rapids.

The Dan River: Scenic Family Fun
  • Class I
  • 6 public accesses
  • 1-8+ hour trips
Known by local paddlers as the “lazy river,” the Dan’s calm waters are well-suited for paddlers of all skill levels. It’s also considered one of the best places to learn to paddle in North Carolina. Here, you can have a family tube, canoe or kayak outing, spending the day in nature where almost nothing modern is seen or heard.
The Dan flows 38-miles through Rockingham County along wide floodplains, high banks and tree-covered corridors. It is virtually free flowing with few modern improvements and its waters are plentiful enough that even in times of draught visitors can still canoe or kayak.

During the 19th century the Dan played an integral role in the development of Rockingham County as bateau crews and small steam launches used its waters for commercial river transportation. The Dan's bateau systems are some of the only that remain the country and were the first to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Mayo River: Rushing Rapids & Smooth Currents
  • Class I, II & III rapids
  • 2 public accesses
  • 1-5 hour trips
The 16-mile portion of the Mayo River in Rockingham County flows through a scenic gorge featuring rock bluffs and two natural waterfalls. The river can be divided into two sections and truly offers something for everyone—from beginners to thrill seekers.

The first portion of the Mayo, the northernmost section, features thrilling Class II and III rapids and is only recommended for very experienced paddlers. Here, the river flows around rock outcroppings, which creates several rapids including the infamous “Boiling Hole” Class III rapid. Avid paddlers say this section offers the best white-water in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

The lower section features deep, smooth water with a steady current to carry paddlers down river. Beginners and less experienced paddlers will enjoy this section of the Mayo. Paddlers can the use Upper Mayo Beach access to reach both the rapid and smooth sections of the Mayo River.

Mayo River State Park

The Mayo River State Park, located in Mayodan, was the county’s first state park. Established in 2002, it consists of nearly 2,000 acres along the serene Mayo River corridor in Rockingham County and is still in development. The Mayo River State Park's interim facility, "Mayo Mountain Access", features a visitor contact station, picnic shelter, 1.8-mile and .5-mile hiking trails, rest rooms, catch and release fishing pond, and a maintenance facility. One portion of the park contains unique historic structures that were designed by internationally renowned architect Antonin Raymond.

Mayo Mountain Access is located at 500 Old Mayo Park Road, Mayodan, NC 27027.

Contact the park for more information at 336.427.2530 or mayo.river@ncdenr.gov.

The Smith River: For Quick Trips

  • Class I, II & IV
  • 1 public access
  • 1-2 hour trips
The Smith begins in Virginia and runs approximately five miles through Eden until it converges with the Dan. Paddle trips on the Smith River are perfect for those who want to enjoy just an hour or two on the water. The Smith is very scenic with lots of rock outcroppings, foliage and wildlife. Experienced paddlers will even find Class II and Class IV rapids on this river. 

There is one public access point on the Smith at the Smith River Greenway in Eden. This access provides a 2.5 mile float trip to the confluence with the Dan River. 

Three Rivers Outfitters in Eden has private access and offers several trips on the Smith River.