Want to find the best views of unspoiled wilderness around? Grab a partner and rent a canoe. The Potomac, Shenandoah and Rappahanock and at least 10 other canoeable waterways are within two hours driving time of Washington.
Buying your own equipment is a substantial investment. New canoes are hard to find for under $300 and the average price is around $400. It's best to try before you buy, and $8 to $16 a day rental for a fully equipped canoe shouldn't break you.
Outfitters listed always include paddles and life jackets with the canoes. Shuttle service and rooftop carries are listed if offered. Hours are noted where they are regular, but usually outfitters have someone in attendance every day.
Wherever you decide to rent your canoe, talk to the owners. They are experts and it's in their best interest that you (and the canoe) come back in one piece. Some offer basic instruction, as does the Red Cross.
On a nice weekend the demand is heavy - a reservation never hurts.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Fistcher's Boat House, 4940 Canal Road NW, 2440461. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rentals $4.50 a day, $8 for 24 hours. Boats may be taken on C&O Canal or an downstream on the Potmomac, no white water. Also available rowboats, bicyles, ball, tackle, refresments.
Jack's Boats, 3500 K st. NW, 337-9642. Open 7 to 7 daily. Hourly rental, $3, daily rental $8.
Thompson boat Center, Rocket Creek Parkway. 2, Virginia Ave. NW, 333-4861. Open 10 to 6 daily. Rental $2 per hour and $5 per day.
Pier 7, South River, Edgewater (301) 956-2288. Open 7 to 7 daily. Rental $2 per hour and $8 per day.
River and Trall Outfitters, near Harper's Ferry, (301) 834-9950. Open 7 to 7 daily. Rental $15 for first day, $25 for two days, $32 for 3 days and $4 each additional days. Access to Potomac, Shenandoah, North Branch, Anteitam and others. Also organized raft trips.
Springriver Corp., 5606 Randolph Road, Rockville, 881-5696. Open Mon. & Tues. 10-4, Wed. & Th. 10-9, Frl. 10-5 and Sat. 9-5. Closed Sundays. Generally no rentals by the day; long weekends a specially. Friday through Monday cost is $25 per canoe, including car carrier, Springriver Corp. also has a branch at 9235 Baltimore Pike, Ellicott City, 465-1211. Smae rates. When six canoes are rented the group can also rent a traller for $25.
Blue Ridge Outfitters, Rte. 340, Harper's Ferry.(304) 725-3444. Open every day. Rental $10 a day weekdays, $15 weekends.
Walfords, Carpon Bridge. (304) 856-2750. Open every day. Rental $10 a day. Shuttle service additional.
Backyard Boats, 100 Frankin St., Alexandria.548-1375. Open weekdays 9-8, Saturdays 9-6, Sundays 10:30-4:30. Rental $15 first day, $10 second day and $5 each additional day. Roof racks included.
Front Royal Canoe Base, Rte. 340 South, Front Royal. (703) 635-2741. Generally outfits two and three-day trips. Shuttle service available.
Lou Mattacia, 2700 Gallows Road, Vienna. (703) 560-8993. Open seven days a week. Rentals $15 a day and $25 a weekend. Kayak or canoe lessons. Rafts also available. Price includes roof racks. Other canoe rental locations in Berryville (703) 955-3631 and Oakton 938-1210.
Shenandoah River Outfitters, Rte. 684 near Luray, (703) 740-4159. Open seven days, 8 to 6. Rnetal $16 for first and second days and $8 for each additional, includes shuttle. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays canoeists bringing back two bags of trash collected along the river are only hcarged $4 for the day.
Three Springs KOA Campground, Rte. 340 South, Front Royal, (703) 635-2741. Open every day. Cnaoes and car carries $12 weekdays and $16 a day waeekends. Shuttle service available.
340 Outfitters, Rte. 340,-Front Royal, (704) 585-8086. Open every day. Some trips can be paid for by the mile; $14 for 7 miles, $16 for 11 1/2 miles, and $18 for a 16-mile trip. Daily rate is $16. Groups taking eight or more canoes save $2 per boat. Shuttle included.