ROANOKE BUZZ: Going with the flow

Published 1:03 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Here along the Roanoke, the rise and fall of the river is a fact of life which impacts our paddle trail as well as our communities.

When making plans to paddle, camp, fish or hunt on the Roanoke—we want you to know you need to do some homework relative to river levels and conditions.

We suggest to those coming to camp on our river platforms, to make reservations well in advance—especially during peak season. That being said, as that reservation draws near, we urge campers to check conditions and re-evaluate if it is still a good time to come before leaving home.

Our staff is available to answer questions, share resources and assist you in shifting your reservation if changing conditions make that your best option.

There are also on-line resources that can be used for current information about river levels and weather forecasts. I will share one such government resource for North Carolina water levels below.

The link where you can find this information is USGS Stream flow NC.

If you go to this link, you should look at the data under Lower Roanoke River (which is not too far down).  From there you can see how much water is being discharged from the Roanoke Rapids Dam in cubic feet per second. You can also see what the water levels are downstream at select towns or highway crossings along the river. Conditions on the river can change due to flood control or hydropower peaking releases from Roanoke Rapids Dam.   Users should be aware that river stage is influenced by these releases.

A good rule of thumb is when the river stage at Williamston is at 8 feet or below, conditions are ideal for paddling and platform camping. If you have questions or need a local resource to interpret related data, you can call and consult our partners at the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge at (252) 794-3808. They welcome river-related questions.

Additionally, during extended periods of concern you can check our Roanoke River Partners Facebook page for advisories.

The Roanoke River is a dynamic system which offers a new experience with each visit. Change of season, water levels and weather all play a role in shaping our users overall experience.

As you likely know, the past two years have brought above average rain falls, and with them, extended periods of high water. Besides impacting paddlers, these extended periods of high water also impact our camping platforms and our overall operations.

For Roanoke River Partners this means revenues to operate our trail are down while costs to maintain our trail are up. High water during peak season the past two years has left a deficit in our operating budget.

Eco-cultural heritage tourism, based on the natural and cultural resources found throughout our region, is complicated.

It is the river that brings new life to our region each year. This cycle of life attracts new and returning visitors, and with them, much-needed revenues to our region.

If you, your business or organization is interested in supporting efforts to positively impact our region, now would be a great time to renew your support or become a first time supporter.

Though we do our best to “go with flow”—in times like these, a grassroots initiative like Roanoke River Partners can really use the extra support.

Want to be a Roanoke River Partner?

Carol Jones Shields is the Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners, Inc. You can contact her at (252) 798-3920 or You can learn more about Roanoke River Partners at