Before setting foot in the Yadkin Valley, seasoned river guide Tim Main knew the natural resource that lends the region its name harbored potential for recreation, education and exploration.
Once landing in Elkin, however, Main realized his sense of exploration could extend to more than just the hidden banks of the Yadkin River. He found in the Yadkin Valley a number of local and neighboring communities that underused – and underappreciated – the lifeline running behind their home’s backdoors.
“I’m here to let them enjoy a natural resource of their own,” said Main of the Yadkin Valley’s residents.
The potential Main saw crystallized in NC River Riders, which is set to open this Friday, July 1.
The business, located beside Triplette Competition Arms at 331 Standard St., Elkin, will offer tubing trips along the Yadkin River.
At $10 for one trip and $15 for an all-day pass, Main hopes locals will be encouraged to spend an afternoon acquainting themselves with a part of their area they may have before neglected.
In the future, Main said that he wants to expand the features NC River Riders provides, but for now, he is concentrating on establishing his enterprise.
“We’ll be offering just tube rides this summer, but I would eventually like to grow into guided kayak trips from Ronda and bass fishing farther downriver… This year is to introduce myself to the community and let them know I’m trying to do something good,” said Main.
As part of that introduction, Main, a certified American Canoe Association Swiftwater Rescue and American Red Cross First Aid instructor, wants potential riders to know that brings with him 17 years of experience as a river guide and canoe and kayak outfitter.
He comes from Harper’s Ferry, W.Va., where he gained much of that knowledge guiding the Shenandoah and Gulley rivers. During his years on those rivers, Main worked as general operations managers for outfitters River Riders and B.T.I., and he was featured in travel segments on local District of Columbia ABC, NBC and FOX television affiliates, the Travel Channel and on National Geographic Channel hosting a historical tour of Harper’s Ferry by river.
Main said that his experience leads him to believe that the Yadkin River and the communities within the Yadkin Valley hold similar promise for ecotourism and burgeoning business.
One thing he believes will bring in tubers is the Yadkin’s blend of leisurely stretches and bumpy, whitewater clips. He described the mix as perfect for a well-rounded afternoon on the water and hopes the nature of the river will attract everyone from novice tubers to expert paddlers looking for low-key rapids.
“The Yadkin is classified as intermediate tubing waters, which means it’s a cross between flat water and moving water, and it moves close to a walking pace,” said Main.
After departing from nearby Crater Park, Main expects the river to carry riders to their pick-up point just past the Sgt. Gregory Martin Bridge overpass of N.C. 268 in 90 to 120 minutes.
Another aspect of the area that Main considers a help to his business is the Yadkin Valley’s love for the outdoors. He said its situation at the center of many existing trails and parks is an outdoor-lover’s dream.
“Elkin and Jonesville have a lot to offer as far as outdoor activities. It’s a hub that’s within 30 minutes of a lot of other things, too,” said Main.
As his business grows, Main wants to connect not only locals, but also visitors and tourists, with area restaurants, wineries, hotels and other businesses by offering promotional packages that allow his riders to spend their day, or possibly an entire weekend, enjoying the Yadkin Valley.
Among those first promotions, said Main, will be an “after work cool-down” starting at 5 p.m. He said that the time would be ideal for riders to grill a burger and picnic on the property before heading out for an evening on the river.
NC River Riders will also be offering package deals for groups of 10 or more people, including church, Scouts, sports teams and businesses.
Shuttle service for all group and individual pick-ups is free.
With his business Main also hopes to educate his riders about their local environment and instill in them a love for one of the best natural features of their home.
“My mission is to educate and leave things better,” said Main. “I see myself as a keeper of the Yadkin River. I’m using a natural resource, and I too should be held responsible.”
NC River Riders will open Friday, July 1. It will be open for tubing seven days a week, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.