Nearly all of our Virginia State Parks are on some body of water and that means great paddling opportunities. Many parks offer rental canoes, kayaks, row boats and peddle boats.
Young visitors enjoy a canoe trip at Mason Neck State Park
But if you have never canoed or kayaked before you may be concerned about just getting out on the water. Fortunately, many of our parks offer guided canoe and kayak tours and all of these programs offer basic instruction before the program starts. Our Visitor Experience staff are trained to offer these programs in a safe and professional manner.
Virginia State Park staff from southwest Virginia pose after canoe training
After the basic training, the canoe and kayak programs take participants on a guided trip through some of the most scenic areas of the park, the habitat of water birds and a variety of creatures not usually seen on land. We also offer guided paddling programs about local history and culture or tied to Virginia's waterways. Some of our most popular guided trips are evening and full moon trips. Just like in our night hikes, the natural world at night is completely different than during the day. To find a paddling program at the park near you or one you will be visiting, use our program and event search tool. You can search by any or all of these components: park, date range, or type of program including Canoeing/Kayaking.
A kayak program at York River State Park
This year some of our senior canoe and kayak instructors participated in an adaptive paddling workshop to learn how to offer kayak programs to the disabled and visitors with mobility challenges. We hope to expand the training so we can offer these programs across the state. We often host veterans groups like Heroes on the Water that bring service men who have lost limbs or are suffering from post traumatic shock disorders to enjoy the feeling of freedom and peace from paddling. More and more we are seeing active seniors with some mobility challenges visit our parks and we hope to be able to offer canoeing and kayaking to them through this training.
Virginia State Park Staff learn how to transfer a student with a mobility
disability during the Adaptive Paddling Workshop.
Staff L to R: Patrick Mcfall, Christen Miller, Megan France & Cameron Swain
Paddle Boarding is a new recreational paddling activity. We do not offer equipment in our parks yet but a few weekends ago I was at First Landing State Park and saw two local equipment rental companies offering paddle boat experiences off our 64th Street parking area. I wouldn't be surprised to see us offering this opportunity in the future.
Aussie Dog enjoys riding on a SUP Stand-up Paddle Surfing Board in Morro Bay, CA.
Photo by Mike Baird used under creative commons license.