There is a hidden magical place in Virginia and the best way to experience it is from a kayak. Dragon Run is a special place which has been protected and preserved in part due to its remoteness, but mostly due to concerned citizens who organized to save it.
According to their website: Friends of Dragon Run (FODR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized in 1985 by a group of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula citizens who generously donated funds to purchase and preserve a 203-acre tract of Dragon Run swampland in Middlesex County. With assistance from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff and an affiliation with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the purchase was made possible with tax deductible contributions. Friends of Dragon Run now independently owns and manages this tract and additional wilderness areas totaling more than 650 acres along the shoreline of Dragon Run. FODR members and the public enjoy the use of these properties for purposes consistent with conservation and education.
Two seasons each year the Friends of Dragon Run organize kayak excursions into the wilderness of the Dragon Run Swamp which empties into the headwaters of the Piankatank River. On your guided tour you paddle through brackish stream channels to experience all of the natural beauty and flora and fauna of this largely unspoiled area. I have been lucky enough to make the trip twice, once in the fall of 2020 and again in the Spring of 2023. Both trips were special and very different from each other. The excursions are small with only eight guests. The tours last about three hours including lots of stops with the guides sharing information on the history and ecology of the area. These paddle trips are the primary fundraisers for the FODR and the requested donation is $50 per person at the time of registration. The trips fill up quickly and you can watch their website or facebook page for information about when to sign up.
My painting “Day on Dragon Run” was inspired by my visits there. It is a 36x24 inch acrylic on canvas and was based on some of the photos I took on our tour. I hope it inspires you to visit yourself or make a donation to the Friends of Dragon Run. It was on display at the RAL Art Center and was part of their 62nd annual Labor Day Show September 2024.
(this photo was taken while the exhibition was still being hung so those are temporary tags. The glass fish sculpture is by Laurie Breakwell and the sailing watercolor is by Carol Vaughn. My painting has great neighbors!)
Update: This painting sold from my exhibition space at the Crossroads Art Center in December 2024.
Friends of Dragon Run 2023 FALL PADDLE SEASON - Registration will begin September 1, 2023 at 9:00 am. Dates are everyday from October 19th though November 5th. Meeting time for launch will be 9:00 am. More information will be posted the beginning of September. We will be waiting to see you!
The state of Virginia and other conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy have also worked to protect Dragon Run. All I can say is THANK YOU to everyone who has worked to help save this incredible place!
Photos by Brenda M. Sylvia