During the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century a number of large, heavy industrial plants were located along the Shenandoah River.  During most of that period the prevailing attitude was, “dilution is the solution to pollution”, so most of the liquid waste was simply dumped into the river with minimal processing.  Won’t the river… Read more »


One of the most significant environmental threats to the Shenandoah River is nutrient loading; too much of the stuff that makes plants grow (mainly nitrogen and phosphorus) getting into the river and making the tiniest of plants (algae) grow out of control. When the algae matures, dies, and decomposes it consumes oxygen from the water… Read more »


There are a number of river gauges along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River which give the river level in feet for that location, but each gauge is independent of the others in its reading and rate of change, which makes it difficult to compare the readings of various gauges by using river level… Read more »


It was late October, just one weekend before closing our canoe business for the season.  Closing a business down for the winter is a process.  The vehicles have to be serviced and winterized and readied for the spring surge. All the canoes and kayaks have to be gone through, repaired, and put into storage.  And… Read more »


Canoe paddles are simplicity itself. You have three basic parts: the grip, the shaft, and the blade. Traditionally paddles were made of wood, often with blades laminated with different colors or types of wood for decoration. But today, paddles come in many different styles depending on intended use. THE GRIP There are two basic types… Read more »


The Shenandoah River is legendary for its bass fishery.  In the late 90’s catches of up to a hundred fish per person a day were not uncommon, but this is not always the case.  In fact, bass are not even native to the Shenandoah River.  You wouldn’t be wrong in calling them an invasive species…. Read more »

eager canoe participants getting ready for their float Downriver Canoe Company Shenandoah Valley River


We try to inquire “How was your float today?” as folks come off the river.  When the river is low, some will say “It was just lovely” and some will say “It was fun, but we kept getting stuck.”  The difference will often be in how well you can read the river, where the deep… Read more »

two sisters in yellow kayaks enjoying the calm waters Downriver Canoe Company Shenandoah Valley River


Kayaks come in many forms each designed to fit a certain niche so to speak.  Kayaks were historically used by indigenous peoples of the northern latitudes for hunting and fishing in their icy costal waters.  A traditional Eskimo kayak would be made from seal skins sewn together stretched over a driftwood frame and paddled solo… Read more »

someone spots a black bear among the fauna along the river Downriver Canoe Company Shenandoah Valley River


“…Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River”, thank you John Denver for appreciating the magnificence of this storied river and the valley through which it flows.  Located just an hour’s drive from the traffic choked beltway around Washington DC, the Shenandoah Valley is an oasis of small towns and open farm fields bordered east and west by… Read more »

a scenic look at the calm river Downriver Canoe Company Shenandoah Valley River

PLATOON – A Big “Oopsy”

Plan your float!  Know where to start, where to finish, and what’s in-between.  And don’t make assumptions.  This is why you use a professional outfitter isn’t it?  That’s our job, to plan your float and inform you of what to expect.  What can possibly go wrong? So I was leaving work one Tuesday evening.  All… Read more »

two young boys navigating the waves of the water in their canoe Downriver Canoe Company Shenandoah Valley River


First and foremost, as you launch the canoe make sure the open side is up.  (Just how basic do we need to be here?)  Seriously though, when launching your canoe make sure to put it all the way in the water.  Otherwise, when you get in and part of the canoe is still on land,… Read more »

serene view of river and tent on enbankment Downriver Canoe Company Shenandoah Valley River


The first European settlers came into the Shenandoah Valley almost 300 years ago following the river south from Pennsylvania and establishing the first settlements near Luray and Staunton in 1727.  But first, let’s talk about the Indians who settled in the Valley over 11,000 years ago and were in such harmony with their environment there… Read more »