- Do I need to be able to swim?
Yes. Because of the inherent dangers of all water sports, we suggest that all non-swimmers stay home for river trips.
- Are the river banks privately owned?
Most of the Jackson River bottom is privately owned. This is very different than most other rivers in Virginia. Enjoy using the river, but don’t trespass on the river banks, and please don’t litter. Some landowners have legal rights allowing them to control fishing and touching the river bottom. Take breaks at river access points and outfitter-approved break spots. The flood control protection of the upstream Gathright Dam has allowed homeowners to build right up to the river banks, so please be respectful of our neighbors’ private property and do not trespass on river banks, but have fun and enjoy a very unique river.
- Do you offer shuttles for private paddlers or bikers?
Yes, you can sign up for any of our paddle trips and select the private boater option to bring your own boat, and we can shuttle it with other customers to the upstream put-in. We can also do the same thing with our daily bike shuttles when you sign up for a bike trip and specify that you are bringing your own bike. We do require a two-person minimum for river trips for your safety.
- Do you offer group discounts on any trips?
We offer 10% off any activity to groups of 15 or more people. Group discounts require a trip leader to collect all waivers and turn them in with a single payment.
- Are the trips guided?
No, our trips are self-guided. You have to be able to take care of yourself on the river. Come expecting fun and relaxation, particularly on our easier trips, but be prepared for some challenge, even if it’s just getting in and out of your boat on a steep and slippery bank! People who are unprepared for spills or incapable of moderate physical exertion should not undertake this activity. Of course, you have to be able to paddle down the river. In selecting your trip, you need to consider the skill level of the least experienced member of your group. Only the people in the boat can control it. Don’t ruin your day by picking something too tough for all to handle.
- What is the minimum age?
The minimum age is 8 years old. Children under the age of 16 should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian. All customers, regardless of age, must be able to maneuver the boat they are paddling. Young children usually lack the strength and maturity that is needed to carry, maneuver, and paddle the boat safely in a rapid. They generally don’t understand our orientation and safety talk. Parents or legal guardians who are not accompanying their minor child on our trips must sign our Parent/Guardian Permission Form in advance of the trip, showing their consent for their child to participate in this activity and their understanding of the risks and responsibilities that go along with that participation.
- What are the requirements for bike rides?
Our bikes rentals are set up for 12-year-olds and up. All bike rental customers must know how to safely use a bike without instruction. We have bikes that can fit riders from 4 feet 11 inches tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall. We currently do not offer young children bikes but are looking to add them in the future.
- Do you cancel for bad weather?
We do run rain or shine as long as the weather is reasonable. We ask all customers to check the weather forecast before their trip and dress accordingly. We don’t put a boat on the river by itself when the combined air and water temperature is under 100 degrees or when the water temperature in the Jackson is less than 50 degrees. We also close when the river levels are too high to safely navigate the river. We always reserve the option to move your trip to another time if the conditions on your reserved trip are unsafe or the water is too low. We can also move anyone we deem not up to the trip reserved to an easier, safer trip. Remember that the more challenging a trip is, the more opportunity there is for injury or property damage. We give full refunds if we cancel the trip for high water or severe weather conditions. Customers are responsible for themselves, those in their group, and all personal and rented equipment.
- Are dogs allowed?
No dogs allowed. It has been our experience that many dogs do not enjoy a day on the river as much as people think they would.
- Can I go rafting?
Alleghany Outdoors has a small fleet of white water rafts, and when water levels permit it, it can be a great option for many parties. Rafts offer a stable and safe paddling platform in higher water levels, making them a great option when taking small kids or novice paddlers. Rafts can hold two to six paddlers, allowing for a unique group experience. Rafts require at least two adult-sized customers to paddle and steer the boats. They work best when the Jackson River is above 500 cubic feet per second to 1600 cubic feet per second on the Jackson River Falling Springs gauge. We typically have these water levels from April through early June. These self-guided rafting trips are easy with just Class I/II rapids.
- Are there weight limits or physical requirements?
Our maximum weight limit is 300 pounds for kayaks and tubes and 275 pounds for bikes. Additionally, customers must be able to swim, physically get in and out of rental equipment without assistance, and self-rescue if required.
- What do I need to bring?
River trips: River clothing (bathing suits, shorts, T-shirts), river shoes such as sandals with ankle straps or old tennis shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, drinks, snacks, change of clothes for after the trip, and if you want, a full picnic lunch to enjoy on our back deck overlooking the river before or after the trip.
Bike Trips: Dress for the weather — T-shirts, shorts, and appropriate footwear for biking. Customers usually bring a day bag, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, drinks, snacks, and if you want, a full picnic lunch to enjoy on our back deck overlooking the river before or after the trip.
- What does the safety orientation entail?
Our 15-minute orientation, which everyone must observe in its entirety without interruption, has been designed by professional paddlers and educators to give you the basic skills you need to have a safe and pleasant experience on our rivers. Some of the things we discuss during orientation include:
- The importance of wearing your life jacket and how to size it properly
- How to lower your center of gravity by kneeling in your boat
- How to select a paddle and the basic strokes necessary to get you down the river and around the rocks
- In cooler weather, how to avoid and treat hypothermia — If you’re planning a cold or wet weather trip, bring wool or polypropylene clothing, rain gear, and warm drinks. Leave the keg of brandy at home. Alcohol is actually deadly in hypothermic conditions!
- How to “swim” a rapid should you turn over — If you can’t swim or are scared of the water, you should probably find another activity to do. While most of our trips offer little excuse to turn over, some folks still do!
- Alcohol and drugs don’t mix with water sports! Don’t come with the idea that this is an activity for drinking. We do not put people who arrive drinking alcoholic beverages or who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the river. No deposits are refunded to people who are turned away for this reason. Remember, too, that drinking in public is illegal. You are in public when you are on the river.
- How to “read” the water — We show you how to recognize hazards and find good channels.
- To guard against sunburn, particularly on thighs and shoulders, use sunblock!
- When in a group, don’t tailgate. Keep the boat behind you in sight and slow down for it. That’s easier than making it speed up!
- Don’t go barefoot in the river; rocks are sharp!
- How to avoid the second most ruinous event of the day, pinning and damaging or losing your boat (the most ruinous event is an argument with your partner!)
- What to do in a lightning storm — Get out of the river and don’t take shelter under trees!
- Have plenty of fluids (cold in hot weather and warm in cold weather)
- Secure eyeglasses and sunglasses and leave your car keys hidden on your vehicle or in our key drawer.
- Do you sell used gear?
Yes, Alleghany Outdoors sells off a portion of its boat and bike fleet every year. We typically sell some used equipment at the end of each season. Call our shop at (540) 969-1800 for details, or sign up for our newsletter or like us on Facebook for details.
- Can you tell me more about the Release of Liability Form?
All adults must sign our form assuming responsibility for themselves, their children, all minors in their group, and all property taken on the trip, both rented and private. Parents or legal guardians who are not accompanying their minor child on our trips must sign our waiver in advance of the trip showing their consent for their child to participate in this activity and their understanding of the risks and responsibilities that go along with that participation. The form should be downloaded in advance or obtained in person or by mail from our office. NO waiver, NO Rental. NO Exceptions.
- What are the rules and regulations?
Due to the difficulty of even our easiest trips, no one under 6 years old is allowed to participate. Everyone is required to sit through the safety brief. It takes just 12 minutes, but it’s full of valuable information on the latest river conditions and hazards you may encounter. You need to be on time for your orientation. Life jackets are required to be worn at all times. No trespassing on private property. Absolutely no littering is tolerated. There are no garbage services along the river, so pack it in and pack it out. No glass or Styrofoam is allowed. No alcohol or drugs allowed; please leave the beer at home. Release of Liability Forms are required by all participants prior to renting from us. Minors need parental or legal guardian permission.