So I have to relocate to either Richmond, VA or Raleigh, NC. Which is the better town for paddling? Sea kayak and river paddling . . . any tips?
neither is bad
In Raleigh you would be within striking distance of great sea kayaking at the Outer Banks or fantastic Appalachian mountain whitewater rivers in western NC.
both are fine
But gun to my head, NC wins
What kind of paddling? The James offers very challenging whitewater within the city limits of Richmond. Lots of tidal paddling nearby. You’d be no further from the Ocean than you would be in Raleigh, and I don’t think you’d be any further from the mountains.
But you are not going to be paddling all the time. When I lived in Richmond for a few years in the seventies, I found it kind of closed. The people were very warm and friendly, but insular. Everybody had lived there forever, and they had set relationships with the people they grew up with. They’d be nice, but didn’t seem to be looking for new best friends. And back then, they still thought they were the capital of the confederacy. Maybe things have changed. All society is more mobile now.
I think with the research and academic community in Raleigh, there may be more population churn, and things might be more open. This is just speculation on my part.
Good luck with your decision.
Richmond vs. Raleigh
There’s a good, very active meetup group based in and around Richmond (meetup/VA-paddlers or something like that). They do some saltwater paddling over on the Chesapeake Bay, some flatwater, and a little whitewater. They have at least a couple of very skilled members to mentor the rest.
That said, I happen to live near Raleigh. An early paddling meetup group morphed into a club (Carolina Kayak Club, paid membership) which is the same size as the Richmond meetup (free), plus there are still a couple of free paddling meetups based in Raleigh. My guess is that the paddling population here in central NC is about twice that of the Richmond area – based solely on stated numbers of members in paddling groups. And there’s the venerable Carolina Canoe Club here (paid membership), which is the mainly whitewater paddling organization. There also are several good guidebooks to paddling the rivers and the coast of NC. If you noodle around on the Internet you can find out more. Finally, Raleigh is full of transplants, and three major universites plus a raft of colleges right in one area has made the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) an open, fairly prosperous, and sports-oriented place. Hmmm, did I mention there are 3 REI stores here? They coexist with several healthy independent outdoor stores. That probably means something. Great place to live. Hot, though.
G in NC
You won’t like either in the summer
they are both way too hot and you will end up PO’d when they get an inch of snow in the winter.
My take on both places
Any opinions on Wilmington, NC?
For winter only. Purpose biking and kayaking.
NC or VA
I moved to NC from Virginia 14 years ago. To be honest, both areas are very similar. Both cities are approximatley the same size. Both cities lie along what is called the Piedmont fall line. Which means the streams and rivers have some rapids, but you don’t have to go very far before you’re in the more sedate coastal palin rivers and they’re slow flowing streams or head west into rapid moving wmountain streams. Both are in near proximity of lakes, and both are about the same distance from the beach. As far as other stuff to do, Richmond has a slight nod over Raleigh mainly because the I-95 corridor between Richmond and Washington. However, Raleigh gets the nod for the better weather, it’s about 150 miles south of Richmond and the winters are a tad bit warmer and shorter than Richmond. Having lived in both, I’d say it’s pretty close to a toss up. From my POV, I maybe give a slight edge to the Raleigh area.
Waterbird, check Yahoo groups and also meetups for Wilmington kayakers. There are kayakers there – maybe called Cape Fear kayakers or something like that. They’re active.
G in NC (but not in Wilmington)
Richmond has a VERY active white water paddling community. As mentioned above, the James through downtown is great paddling. see coastals.org for one paddling group. Literally, a couple miles outside of town you can paddle the Tidal james. So there are plenty of oportunities for both. The OBX is less than 3 hrs away & Va beach is probably less than 2 hrs. I’ve never been to Ralieghso I can’t comment on that.
I say go for Richmond. I live near Raleigh and we are full here.
There are some good paddling opportunities in NC both inland and at the coast, but I haven’t paddled enough in Virginia to compare.
Go for it
It is almost on the coast and the Cape fear river is right there along with the intercoastal waterway. There will be some cold days, but overall you’ll be able to kayak and bike most of the winter.
I live in
Fredericksburg VA—about 50 miles north of Richmond-the sea kayaking around here–and in Richmond is mostly on wide tide water rivers like the Potomac, Rappahonack and the James—if you want salt water then you can depend on about an hour and a half drive–to Chesepeak bay for me and to the Norfolk Va area if you live closer to Richmond—white water is closer–lots on the James, Rappahonock and some world class stuff on the Potomac just up river from DC. the only thing I know about NC is that my ex lives there. ps–it is hot, damned hot in the summer and very humid
Thanks all . .
Looks like it is going to be Raleigh.
Jonsprag1 - good to hear from you. Looks like I’m another Bangor Tempest driver that’s heading south to make a living.
Not too far away is Kerr Lake (off I-85) near the VA/NC border. Beautiful area to paddle and camp. We used to go to County Line Park. Folks in the area were very friendly. Big lake, lots of shoreline and trees.
well Virginia isn’t Maine but its not bad–and it does have two things that Maine doesn’t—milder winters and more jobs–
Wilmington is fantastic for sea kayaking
One side of town is the river. The other side the coast. There are salt marshes, and all of the beaches are public access. The biggest stretch along Wilmington is an 8 NM long uninhabited barrier island with no roads or vehicle access. It’s open coast off the beaches, so really great stuff for sea kayaks.
I’ve been biking 8.4 miles each way to work most days. I see a lot of bikers around. I know they are in the middle of a project to improve bike paths around town. But I would say that has been a weak point here. Or maybe that’s just me after getting hit by an suv a few years back. Hasn’t kept me from jumping back on my bike though.
Look me up if you come to town.
Check out the Carolina Kayak Club
If you’re coming to Raleigh, you’ll want to check out the Carolina Kayak Club. They’re very active and meet the 2nd Monday of each month on Cary.
If you’re more interested in whitewater, then the Carolina Canoe Club caters more to that audience.
NC vs. ME
>>it does have two things that Maine doesn’t—milder winters and more jobs
And better barbecue. But worse lobster. Tough call!
Google My Maps
Here is a link to all the places I have paddled in the Raleigh area.