The Russell Fork Rendezvous is held at the Kiwanis Park Fairgrounds in Haysi, Virginia. Haysi borders one of the country’s only interstate parks, “The Breaks,” which is situated in a gorge on the Kentucky/Virginia line.
Opportunities abound for paddling, rafting, hiking, biking and fishing in the area.
During the festival, it is likely that you will cross the state line multiple times on hikes, scenic drives or on the river.
Most of the activities that festival goers participate in take place along the winding 15 mile stretch of Hwy 80 between Haysi, VA and Elkhorn City Kentucky.
Come get to know this magical place known to many as “The Grand Canyon of the East.”
Rendezvous began in Haysi, Virginia 25 years ago. After several years of being held in nearby Elkhorn City, KY, festival organizers made the decision to return the festival to its roots and original location in Haysi in 2018.
Haysi is a friendly community of just under 500 residents. Rendezvous attendees will be happy to find a small, but charming downtown area, with a couple of pizza places, a Subway, a well-stocked gas station and a Dollar General. There is also a privately owned campground called Thunder River, which generously donates firewood to the Rendezvous.
The nearest Walmart is in Grundy, VA, about 30 minutes away, and visitors who are coming from Kentucky can take advantage of the larger grocery and supply stores in Pikeville, or Velocity Market in Elkhorn City.
As always, we encourage everyone to purchase as many of their supplies in the area to help support local towns.
The Russell Fork has wonderful fall paddling opportunities for kayakers and rafters of any skill level. Regular dam releases are scheduled by the Army Corp of Engineers every weekend in October (on the weekend of Rendezous, releases are scheduled on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The most popular sections include a Class II-III+ upper section, the class IV-V+ gorge, the class II-III+ lower section, and the class I-II town section. All sections feature (relatively) easy shuttles from the Rendezvous grounds.
The “Lord of the Fork” is an extreme, class V+ whitewater race held every year on the same weekend as Rendezvous. The best place to watch the race is at a visually stunning rapid named “El Horrendo,” which can be accessed via a one hour hike down two steep hills and along rail road tracks that feature a large bridge over the gorge and a tunnel. Dozens of people make the hike every year to cheer on the racers has they pass through. This year’s Rendezvous will include a free shuttle from the grounds to the trail head, as well as a knowledgeable trip leader to ensure safe passage and a whole lot of fun.
The Mountain Bike Trail in the Breaks Interstate Park offers breathtaking scenery. The trail is a stack loop trail system offering up to nearly 12 miles of riding, from moderate to difficult. Depending on the route chosen, bikers may plan rides of varying length, with the possibilities of good climbs and long downhill runs. More information can be found at https://www.breakspark.com/activities-recreation/activities-recreation/
The Breaks Interstate Park offers sandstone climbing similar to that of the New River Gorge and the Obed with spectacular views.
Climbers must obtain a permit and complete a waiver to climb at Breaks, which must be renewed every calendar year. More information can be found at https://www.mountainproject.com/area/111742350/breaks-interstate-park.