About Us

Defining the Challenge

In 1996, people from the five counties along the Roanoke River in North Carolina met with others from across the state to merge their interests in this rich natural resource and in the region’s economic needs.

Historically, people along the Roanoke have depended on its abundance for their own food as well as for commercial goods: naval stores, lumber, cypress shingles, fish and more. The river served as a travel route for the earliest inhabitants of this land and those who followed. Its dense swamps provided cover for runaway slaves. Its high banks and sharp bends offered vantage points for forts during wars. It carried barges of fuel and other products in more recent times. Its water serves industries and municipalities from dam to sound. The forbidden swamps even hid illegal stills during Prohibition. One was so “industrial” that it ran three shifts!

The Roanoke remained vital, yet there was awareness that this beautiful, life-giving river was not being used to its fullest potential…or in ways that protected it for use by future generations.

Facing the Realities

In 1997, this group had identified their goals, established a plan of action and incorporated as a non-profit group called Roanoke River Partners (RRP). Now, the hard work began. One of RRP’s first and biggest projects was to create a paddle/camping trail along the river and its creeks that would increase awareness of this treasure we call the Roanoke, and build infrastructure for small businesses like guides, outfitters and many others in the region, new and old. Visitors could trace the curves of the Roanoke and its tributaries, discovering the variety of wildlife and habitats it offers and enjoying the unique experience of spending a night (or more) in the breathtaking beauty of its moss-draped backswamps. In this special type of eco-tourism, the Roanoke River Paddle Trail would be the first private system of its type in the nation. No small task, for certain.

Realizing the Dream

Today, the Roanoke River Paddle Trail is a reality!

With 20+ camping sites in operation, this unique trail, which was authorized by the General Assembly as the Roanoke River State Trail on November 15, 2021, has attracted thousands of users from across the US (as well as paddlers documented from eleven countries outside the US).

There are many wonderful stories between the dream of this trail and the reality, and it could not have happened without countless dedicated supporters. We sincerely thank each of them and just as importantly, we hope that you will be captivated by this vision of the Roanoke as a source of sustainable, responsible growth through eco-tourism.

Join us in creating a better economy for the people along the river as we work to ensure a healthy future for this treasure we call the Roanoke.

Today, our mission is to preserve, enhance and promote the natural, cultural and historic identity, resources, and integrity of the Roanoke River region through cultural and eco-heritage tourism and other environmentally sustainable activities that encourage economic development and social justice.

For more about how you can become a sponsor (and there is a level of sponsorship for everyone) or information about the Roanoke River Partners, Inc. contact us at contact@roanokeriverpartners.org or reach out to a member of our Board of Directors.

Roanoke River Partners (RRP) is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was created to promote a positive, healthy vision and future for the historic communities that reside throughout the region – the Roanoke River, Albemarle Sound and their communities.

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