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RiverPalooza: Shenandoah Snorkel, Mussel & Paddle TRIP

July 12 @ 9:00 AM 4:00 PM


Our Shenandoah River snorkeling trip , in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, has always been a huge hit. This year we are going to zero in and focus on freshwater mussels while we snorkel the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

We are fortunate in that we will have Mike Selckmann, Associate Director for Aquatic Habitats at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB), on the trip with us to help explain the critical role freshwater mussels play in healthy ecosystems.  Each mussel can filter over 5 gallons of water per day to help improve water quality in our rivers and streams.  Historically, mussels have played an integral role in doing just that on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. But it is now rare to see healthy mussel populations on the Shenandoah.  Mercury contamination? Increased sediment loads? Warmer temperatures?  All good questions.  Join us and learn more!

creatures in containers

We’ll begin our journey at Hazard Mill and make our way downstream to the Bentonville boat ramp, stopping along the way to explore likely mussel areas and possibly those locations where scientists from Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center and Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources have propagated mussels on this stretch of the South Fork.   With laminated fish ID cards provided by the U.S. Forest Service, you’ll also be able to identify the various fish and other aquatic wildlife swimming by. We’re also thrilled to once again welcome Greg Trilling from Nature Forward, who will set up a macroinvertebrate station to give us a closer look at some of the smaller river inhabitants and how they are able to provide a quick assessment of the overall health of the river in that area.

The trip fee includes the use of canoes/kayaks and snorkeling gear, so all you need to bring is a beach towel, lunch, and plenty of water. And with low/clear river conditions expected at this time of year, it’s the perfect opportunity for a day of safe and enjoyable paddling and snorkeling.

In most of our RiverPalooza trips we strongly encourage first-timers to come out on the river, regardless if they know how to swim.  On this trip, because of the heavy community science component, we ask that folks have some experience in the water so the focus can quickly transition to the exploration of mussels and their role in the Shenandaoh River ecosystem.


Don’t miss this chance to explore the stunning Shenandoah River and its fascinating wildlife with your Shenandoah Riverkeeper. We can’t wait to see you there!

Location: Bentonville, VA

Trip Details

  • Arrival Location:
    Down River Canoe
    884 Indian Hollow Rd.
    Bentonville, VA 22610
  • Begin Arrival & Check in: 9:00AM
  • Shuttle Departs to Put-In: 10:00AM
  • Estimated Take-out time: 4:00pm
  • Paddle Level: Intermediate (can handle more advanced whitewater strokes)
  • Boat Options and Costs:
    Canoe: $75 (Includes registration for 2)
    Kayak: $60
    Tandem Kayak: $75
    BYOB: $35

Included with each registration:

  • Riverkeeper Leader
  • rental canoe or kayak
  • Paddle insurance
  • Personal flotation device for the day (with rental)
  • Snorkel equipment
  • Shuttle Service (if applicable)
  • RiverPalooza Tee

Note:  Rentals are only available to adults or children 8 years and older who are accompanied by an adult and comfortable being face down in the water.


Two waivers must be signed online (in advance) for you to be registered for this trip.

1. ACA waiver

2. Outfitter waiver-  Participant Rental waiver

Also to do in advance:


  • Packed lunch
  • Reusable water bottle (please no plastic bottles or glass)
  • Wear proper footwear. NO FLIP-FLOPS. Old gym shoes, sandals with a strap, and water shoes work great
  • Sunscreen, hat and rain gear
  • Snacks and drinking water (no glass bottles)
  • Change of clothes
  • Dry Bag or Waterproof Container (if you bring a phone or a non-waterproof camera, you need a way to protect it)

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