The Dan River is known for its geography, structure, and beauty. The river originates in South-Central Virginia near Meadows of Dan. Along the way, the river crosses the North Carolina-Virginia border twice along its path before emptying into Kerr Reservoir.
The upper river supports naturally-reproducing populations of brook trout, rainbows, and brown trout. Parts of the Upper Dan River are classified as wild trout waters by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Other sections are designated for catch and release fishing. The upper river flows through several dams, reservoirs, and a deep gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Virginia.
The area around Danville contains largemouth bass, striped bass, panfish, and catfish. The lower Dan River is known for its seasonal fish migrations from Kerr Reservoir. Along this section of the river, anglers may encounter walleye, striped bass, white bass, blue catfish, and flathead catfish.
One-way float trips are possible along this section of the river. Kayakers, canoe fishermen, and other small boat enthusiasts frequently navigate from Danville to Milton, South Boston to Aarons Creek, or other routes.
The Dan River is also recognized for its rare and unique fish. One unusual resident is the Roanoke hogsucker, a species that occurs nowhere else but the Dan River basin. Similar in appearance to the Northern hogsucker, the Roanoke hogsucker uses its unique mouth and body shape to hug rocks in the bottom of the river.
The Dan River system also contains the Roanoke logperch (Percina rex), a federally listed endangered species. The Roanoke logperch is found in the Chowan River basin and the Roanoke River basin.
The Dan River received national attention in 2014 when a coal ash spill occurred near Eden, North Carolina. Long-term effects of the spill remain in question.