NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) has always strived to keep the ideas of conservation, preservation and partnerships permeating in all that they do. While making that happen through the years, NOVA Parks has helped to build Northern Virginia as a region. Conservation and partnerships were central in the development of some of the best rowing facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region.
During the 1960’s, NOVA Parks acquired over 20 miles of river frontage on the Bull Run & Occoquan, including the Occoquan reservoir. This block of over 5,000 acres protects the source of drinking water for over 1 million people in Northern Virginia. With control of so much shoreline, recreational uses were needed that were also compatible with the conservation goals. One of those uses was scholastic rowing.
In the 1970’s, NOVA Parks teamed up with the vocational education program of Fairfax County Public Schools. Boat houses and other related facilities were built in what became Sandy Run Regional Park. With great sight lines from its miles of waterfront and minimal current in the reservoir, Sandy Run is a significant regatta facility today, hosting competitions with thousands of spectators and participants.
Ten area high school teams, George Mason University and several rowing clubs call Sandy Run their home. Annually, around 16,000 rowers compete in races and around 16,000 spectators enjoy the competition.
Today, two additional teams call Bull Run Marina Regional Park home, and five teams currently row at Algonkian Regional Park. The teams at Algonkian will have new facilities in 2021 at the new park being built at Beaverdam Reservoir in Loudoun County.
No other park agency in Northern Virginia has more miles of river/reservoir frontage than NOVA Parks. Conserving these areas greatly protects natural habitats and the source of drinking water. They also provide unique and wonderful recreational opportunities.
These waterfront parks are used by many and offer multiple outdoor activities. But, if crew is your thing, NOVA Parks is the place to row your boat.