WARNING! Watersports activities are inherently dangerous and include the risk of serious injury or death including the risk of drowning. Dominion recommends that paddlers receive river safety and paddling skills training from qualified instructors such as those certified by the American Canoe Association.
Boat Landing Locations
Two North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) boat landings are available for put-in and take-out. The Gaston landing (upstream) is on the north side of the river near the NC Route 48 bridge, Gaston, NC. The Weldon landing is on the south side of the Roanoke River near the US Route 301 bridge, Weldon, NC. View a list of WRC boating access sites with directions.
Recreation Flow Season
The annual paddler season for pre-planned releases is June 16 to October 31. From March 1 though June 15, river flows are generally maintained above optimum paddler flows to enhance spawning habitat for migratory fish species, including striped bass. Flows optimum for paddling are sometimes available from November 1 through February 29, but not required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for the Roanoke Rapids Dam.
Several links are provided to help you determine if conditions are right for an enjoyable whitewater experience.
First, review the Dominion flow Web page which indicates the planned release for the current and next two days. Feedback from local paddlers indicates that the best flows are between 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 3,300 cfs. If the Roanoke Rapids dam is scheduled to release 6,000 cfs or better, chances are the rocks will be submerged and the paddler will only experience a smooth swift current. However, between 3,300 cfs and 6,000 cfs, there is often a "surfable wave" that forms near the bottom of the Weldon rapid.
View the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Roanoke Rapids river gage. This provides updated flow information every 15 minutes. For best whitewater paddling, this should indicate that flows are between 1,800 and 3,300 cfs.
Also check the Halifax USGS gage. If the river gage indicates water levels are 20 feet or higher, the major rapid just upstream of the Weldon landing is washed out (see photo on right; flow at 8,000 cfs, Halifax gage > 26 feet).
In general, when the flow record from the Roanoke Rapids USGS gage indicates a 20,000 cfs flow followed by a drop to 2,000 cfs, it will be about 16 hours after the drop in flow before this rapid is considered "desirable" for whitewater paddling.