Running Kibler Valley as a kid in a tandem canoe was my first taste of whitewater.  Sitting only twenty minutes from my house, it is still one of my favorite places to play.   This is Section 1 of the Dan River, beginning at the Pinnacles Hydro-station at the foot of the mountain, and is dam released.  The only scheduled releases occur each Saturday during July.  Any other releases are unscheduled and occur to either lower the lake level following heavy rains or to generate electricity for the City of Danville.  The later typically occurs on weekdays when the temps exceed 95 degrees in Danville.

Releases are measured in the number of kilowatts generated the water flowing through the turbines.  The recreational releases are typically 7500KWs, except for the final one, which coincides with the Kibler Valley River Run.  Provided the lake level permits it, the release will by a full one on race day.  Full releases currently are at 9000KWs, although I have heard them refer to 9600KWs.  The last time that I documented a 10000KW release was race day in 2010. 

A gauge sits just above the top bridge.  Reading the gauge is the only way to truly know the water level, as natural flow can impact the level during a release.  Roughly speaking, a 7500 KW release will measure 2.35 - 2.40 on the gauge.  8000KWs measures around 2.45 and a full release of 9000KWs measures around 2.55 - 2.60

The Kibler Valley River Run covers the top four miles of the river.  The old picnic table take-out is now off-limits, making the Danube Church parking lot the most used access point.    Often paddlers meet in the church parking lot, then park their vehicles on the opposite side of the road after setting shuttle.  I typically limit my runs to the top mile and a quarter, taking out at my brother-in-law's house at 7 Stitches, but there are a few good spots on the bottom half of the run too.  

The best three rapids are all in the top quarter-mile.  The first is the PowerHouse rapid, located just around the corner from the hydrostation.  The rapid can be ran to either the left or the right of the entrance rock in the middle of the river.  Personally, I've always ran the river-right line.  Just watch for the flipper rock at the bottom and make sure you're either on the right or the left.   Multiple eddies can be caught in the lead-up to the rapid.  Powerhouse has recently turned into my favorite place to play.  The next rapid is called Public Enemy #2 by Forrest Altman in Adventures In The Dan River Basin.  The fun line on this rapid is to take the far river-left chute around the cluster of rocks.  Again, just make sure you're committed to going all the way to the left, otherwise stay right and avoid the middle.  Boats will often pin if they try to enter the slot while still carrying right to left angle.  The pool below the rapid is a nice spot for stern squirts and enders.  From there, you cross under the bridge and paddle through some small rock jumble to the boof rock at Basketball Falls.  You can eddy out on the river right bank just before the boof rock to help line it up.  Hitting the boof will allow you to easily eddy out on the right before curling around the big rock sticking out of the mountain.  This is a fun spot to surf and a nice place to grab a few enders or stern squirts as the eddy line is very defined.   The rapid is named Basketball Falls because of the old basketball court between the rapid and the road.  Many paddlers not comfortable with the creek feel in the upper section will put in here for the fun run to the take-out.  On busy river days, spectators will often sit here as well to watch for carnage.  It's a continuous Class II run from here to the takeout, mostly shallow, rocky and narrow.

The hydrostation allows you to pull into their property to unload your boat and even have a public bathroom outside on the property.  Just don't park on the grass.  After unloading, you can either park just outside the gate or at the old basketball courts, just a short walk down the road.  I typically park at the courts. 

Kibler Valley River Run
visit the official site at

The River Run is sponsored by the Red Bank Ruritans, with proceeds funding charitable causes in the Claudville Community.  Even when not competing, paying the entry fee as a Non-Racer is a great way to give back to the community, plus you get a t-shirt and free shuttle services.  If you are coming from out-of-town, my advice would be to relax, don't take the day to seriously, have fun and be safe.  The River Run is a non-paddler led community fund raiser.  It is a great way to hang out with your paddling friends and support a worthy cause.  In other words, don't sweat the little stuff or the number of tubers in the way.  That doesn't mean you should not bring a fast boat and paddle your tail off, it just means that some perspective will go a long way. 

Growing up only a mile from the Dan River and a few miles from the Valley, I spent a lot of time floating and paddling from the Hydro Station to the other side of Claudville.  I started paddling canoes down the valley with my dad at an early age and was there for the first annual Kibler Valley River Run in 1982.  I competed in it many times.  In 1985, at sixteen, I paddled a Boy Scout canoe with my neighbor Neil Marion and placed first in the Junior tandem division. For many years after that, I would simply show up with a friend and borrow the first available canoe.  I remember Mike Joyce and I trying to get a white-water canoe down the river when we didn't have a clue how to handle it.  We probably spent more time out of the boat than we did in it.  Mike and I also carved a path down the river in a big aluminum flat water canoe.  I imagined that you could see sparks as it scraped its way through the rocks.  Mike Wimbush and I also competed once in a borrowed boat.  I then took a break from paddling for a few years and when I returned it was in a kayak.  And now the last weekend in July is once again penciled in on my calendar as a weekend for paddling in Kibler Valley, although I typically paddle my playboat and do not compete.  

July 25, 2015
details and photos from the 33rd Anuual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here .

July 26, 2014
details and photos from the 32rd Anuual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here .

July 27, 2013

details and photos from the 31st Annual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here .

July 31, 2010
details and photos from the 28th Annual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here.

July 26, 2008
details and photos from the 26th Annual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here.

July 28, 2007
details, photos and a video from the 25th Annual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here

July 29, 2006Many details from the 24th Annual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here, along with many more photos.

July 30, 2005

more photos and details from the 23rd Annual Kibler Valley River Run can be found here.


July 31, 2004
22nd Annual Kibler Valley River Run

I stopped by Dan River Company's tent on the way out and picked up a brochure.  Jeff and I would rent kayaks for the first time the following month.


July 26, 2003
21st Annual Kibler Valley River Run


July 24, 1993
11th Annual River Run


It looks like Don and dad might have crashed out at Basketball Falls in 93.  Another year they completely folded a fiberglass canoe in the same falls.  It was completely folded in half when it went in sideways.

3rd Annual River Run

Neil Marion and I won the Junior Two Person Canoe division. 

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