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Roanoke River Blueway's website is a great resource for our regions blueways. Streamflow on the Roanoke River and tributaries varies considerably based on season and meteorological events but generally ranges from flatwater to Class II rapids. During low water levels sections of the river may not be floatable without exiting the boat or scrapping the river bottom (see minimum recommended streamflow levels for each access point on the Blueway Access page). As floatability varies considerably based on a range of factors (canoe vs. kayak, solo vs. tandem, durability of boat, paddler preferences and skills, etc.) streamflows less than the recommended minimums may be sufficient to support passage. High water levels can also present potential river hazards and greatly impact boater safety. Blueway users should check river conditions, streamflow, and weather conditions as a best practice in planning any Blueway outing.


We monitor the USGS GAUGE: 02055000 whenever we have guests on the river and is the best gauge for the sections of river we use upstream from our shop.

  • Below 90 Cubic Feet per Second(CFS): we do not put any tubes or kayaks on the river as it becomes unfloatable and more rapids require portaging or scrapping.

  • 90-150 CFS: Typical low summer flow rate. Trips may take longer and blueway users might have to step out of their watercraft several times each trip. Can still be enjoyable but you need to be able to read the river and look out for rocks and gravel shoals. Some scrapping/portaging but the river is generally passable.

  • 150-250 CFS: This is the sweet spot! The river has great flow and our kayak trips take ~3 hours and tubing ~2 hours. With a little maneuvering, you should not need to get out of your kayak or tube.

  • 250-400 CFS: The river starts moving noticeably swifter and powerfully. Use extra caution at rapids and around bends. Avoid being pushed into banks, obstacles, and trees. Small rapids smoothed over and trips usually run quicker than at normal flows.

  • 400 - 550 CFS:  The highest we consider putting watercraft on the river.  If the river has not crested and there is more rain forecasted, we will shut down operations.  If the river level is receeding, we will consider putting tubes and kayaks on the river.  The current becomes much pushier at this level and gets close to flooding our take out bridge.

  • 550+ CFS:  We will not put anybody on the river at this level as the river becomes too swift and too close to flooding some of the low water bridges.

The National Weather Service has a good Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

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