Photo by Roy Sewall.
Within a single hour’s drive of Washington, DC, lies one of the most undeveloped, bucolic, and beautiful stretches of river anywhere. A hidden jewel of undisturbed woodlands, beaches (at most water levels), islands and prolific wildlife. We begin this float at Ely’s Historic Ford on the Rapidan River and float to Mott’s Landing.
Through a beautiful confluence of industry and environmental grassroots activism Virginia permanently preserved 32 miles of this river in public use and conservation easement. This means long contiguous stretches of wild river where we can freely paddle, camp and play. This float explores 14 of those miles. This is an amazing float for families and friends punctuated by riffles, turns, drops, chutes and a few class II (III at higher levels) rapids. We describe the paddling as “technical” in places due to the need to turn and maneuver, but at most levels the whitewater is very modest. If the levels are up, we can take rafts!
Trip Length: 14 miles
Trip Duration: 2 days and 1 night camping riverside
Trip Difficulty: Class I and II/III rapids, many of which are technical and require maneuvering in tight quarters. Higher water pushes rapids up to Class III wave trains
Trip Cost: $450 per person, or reserve a private raft for up to six guests for $1,750 ($275 per person if you bring 6) all inclusive. Trip must have 4 people signed up to be viable.
When Is This Trip Available: April – June. During wet years this window can be extended later into the summer and possibly even fall.
Minimum Age: 6 years old in raft, 12 years paddling a canoe or kayak
Number of Guests per Trip: 4-12
Trip Meeting Time: 9AM Friday morning.
Trip Ending Time: Approximately 5PM Saturday evening.
Trip Meeting Location: Ely’s Ford boat ramp on 610 (Ely’s Ford Road), VA, or Mott’s Landing, VA.
Activities: Paddling, swimming, birding & wildlife viewing, camp-side games and sports, relic hunting, ecology and geology education, camp-side fishing and, of course, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
Food Options: Day 1: Lunch and Dinner. Day 2: Breakfast and Lunch. Please contact us early to talk about dietary restrictions.
Who This Trip is for:
If you’re paddling a kayak or canoe, while the rapids are limited to class I and II/III many of them are technical and require maneuvering in tight quarters, so we recommend that people signing up for this option have several river paddling experiences under their belt. If you’re rafting, no experience is required.
This is a great trip for nuclear and multi-generational families, with just enough whitewater to keep everyone entertained.
Meet your guides in the morning. Get boat assignments, shakedown gear and then to the launch. The first day’s paddle isn’t too long, so there’s plenty of time to learn or practice your strokes, to enjoy the scenery and to get settled in at camp. Watch out for mink, river otter, deer, black bear and big majestic birds while you paddle riffles and rapids, mazes, islands, drops, and narrow chutes. We will camp by the river, on a sandy beach, if water levels permit. Your guides will hand you a beverage and set up camp while you swim, fish, or just enjoy the group. During hors d’oeuvres, dinner is prepared for you over an open fire. Enjoy it under the stars. Bedtime comes when you’re done staring at the campfire.
The second morning we take a little extra time so you can laze in your tent, move slowly, linger by the campfire, and enjoy a hot breakfast. Take in views of the wide and prehistoric-looking confluence of the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers while guides pack up the gear. When you’re ready, we launch into the confluence rapids, which are a local favorite. Once they are behind you, the rest of the trip is very chill, save for the occasional chute or drop that requires your attention. After lunch you arrive at your destination, Mott’s Run Landing. We deal with the gear, clean up, and get you back to wherever you need to be.