Watauga - 1. SR 1557 to NC 105 - Red Roof

Watauga, North Carolina, US


1. SR 1557 to NC 105 - Red Roof (Red Roof Run)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 75 fpm
Max Gradient 135 fpm


Photo taken 11/13/09

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03479000 200 - unknown cfs II-IV 00h36m 263 cfs (running)

River Description

This is better understood as a run with two distinct personalities. The upper section, above the dam, is an easy class II drop-pool with a II+ ledge at the end. This is a favorite, close run of Boone boaters.   Below the dam, are 3/4 mile of continuous, rocky class IV (V at higher water). This drops 125 feet in the first 0.4 mi. (equal to about 300 ft./mile) then levels out for the last 0.3 mile to rocky class II-III. Unfortunately, some ASU students do not give this run the respect it deserves despite the numerous shallow drops and plentiful undercuts.  (I got the honor of surviving a 45º pin here in 2000, this is not a run for a boat longer than 9 feet. -BLP)

There are also a few good ledges sprinkled among the riffled run much farther up between Foscoe and Seven Devils.  If the headwaters has enough water to run it will be a narrow run with numerous low bridges, occassional sweepers, and few catchable eddies.  Boone's Fork enters on private property just above the put-in and contributes significant water to the flow.

The latter half of this section is in the NCWRC Delayed Harvest Trout program and is frequented by fishermen in the winter and spring.  Please be respectful of other river users, though it's not likely anyone is fishing if there is enough water to run.

***UPDATE SPRING 2016***

Access to this section has now become VERY limited. Private property surrounds both the put-in and take-out of this section all the way down to the riverbed. It is feasible to ask parking permission at the Ham Shop Cafe or the Fly Fishing shop at the takeout but parking at the put-in is virtually inaccesible. Large boulders have been placed by landowners at the roadside pulloffs along Old Shulls Mill Road (1568). Upstream on Shulls Mill Road (1557), it is possible to park at Shulls Mill Baptist Church but permission needs to be obtained. Multiple "no trespassing" and "private property" signs are now posted at the large parking area on 105 by the dam. If access at either end of this section is granted, please keep a low and respectful profile while getting on and off the river. The access situation regarding the Red Roof section is very sensitive and should be treated respectfully. 

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-04-25 17:41:53


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 8 2012 (2445 days ago)
x (1)
Watch out for a clean looking drop between two large rocks past midway down. I think its called
trashcan falls. I had a very close call there. My first and only vertical pin. Very dangerous spot
so be aware of this area.... Yeah I read this warning and had to submit my accident report and what
happened to me there..albeit a long time ago... . Thanks for the submission...... I could be wrong
but i don't believe trashcan is part of this particular run. this is the red roof run and trashcan
is much farther down stream on the 321 bridge (intersection of watauga river road and 321) to guy
ford bridge run.
November 20 2009 (3345 days ago)
x (1)
DO NOT even think about running this section below 400 / 500 CFS. . . The potential for pinning is
MUCH higher and the boat abuse is prominent. . . just not worth it. . . Also, note that the guage
is far downstream so you can count on the red roof section being significantly lower than what the
Sugar Grove Guage is actually reading, depending on rising or dropping cfs and the rainfall at that
May 22 2009 (3527 days ago)
x (1)
Along with trashcan, there are quite a few others with pin potential. The second drop has a pin in
it along with the small 3-4 foot ledge on the right of the big boulder above the lead in to
trashcan. Nothing out here is too serious but it will get you if you let your bow sink in any of
the rapids.
September 21 2005 (4866 days ago)
Bing OliverDetails
Note that the two photos currently displayed appear to be from Watauga Gorge, not this section.