Rapidan Wildlife Management Area

Perhaps nowhere is there a more beautiful stream than the upper reaches of the Rapidan River at full stage, or hemlocks more magnificent than those in the area’s deep, moist hollows. From these narrow, rocky stream courses and valleys rise the steepest of mountains, many faced with sheer rock cliffs and forbidding laurel thickets.<p> The Rapidan Wildlife Management Area consists of 10,326 acres, broken into eight tracts and spread along the east slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison and Greene Counties. Four of these tracts adjoin Shenandoah National Park. Elevation ranges from 900 to 3,500 feet. The Conway, Rapidan and South Rivers flow through the management area, providing habitat and fishing opportunities. Timber type is predominantly oak on the slopes and ridges, tulip poplar in the coves. Evidence can still be found of steep mountain roads, home sites and piles of rock where small fields were once cleared and farmed by sturdy mountaineer families.<p> Primitive camping is permitted on Department-owned lands, except as otherwise posted. The local office of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is located at 900 Natural Resources Drive in Charlottesville. Offices are open M-F from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The regional office is in Fredericksburg and can be reached by calling (540) 899-4169.<p> Deer populations are increasing and provide hunting opportunities. Turkey, squirrels and grouse are found throughout the area. The rugged terrain and remoteness of the Rapidan, and its close proximity to the Shenandoah National Park make the management area a prime location for black bear. Woodcock are found along some of the smaller, lower lying streams. Successful management of wildlife clearings, old home sites, abandoned orchards and selective timber harvesting has helped to maintain and improve diverse wildlife habitats.<p> The Rapidan Wildlife Management Area has an exceptional native trout fishery. Excellent populations of brook trout abound in its rivers and streams, most notable of which are the Rapidan and Conway Rivers. The Conway River also contains numerous wild brown trout to entice the adventurous angler. Small, fast flowing headwater streams grade into large boulder strewn rivers. Stretches of cascading white water, interspersed with deep, quiet pools, provide mountain trout angling at its best. Fish-for-fun regulations apply on the Rapidan River and all its tributaries are within the boundaries of the management area and Shenandoah National Park.<p> The Rapidan is popular for hiking, horseback riding, viewing wildlife and nature photography. Camping is allowed subject to Wildlife Management Area restrictions.