A road trip along Rockfish River Road/Route 617 can be exciting at anytime of year. The driving route travels Route 617 along the northern edge of the Rockfish River between Howardsville and US 29, providing opportunities to stop and scan the river and the deciduous forest along its banks. Look for wood duck and Canada geese in summer and hooded merganser in the winter months. Keep checking the skies for resident red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks, or the occasional osprey or bald eagle.
As you pass through the quaint depot of Rockfish, if you can find a place to safely pull over, be sure to check the railway bridge, which has hosted nesting great-horned owls and common ravens over the years. En route, watch, as wild turkeys seem to lead the way along the roadside. To fully appreciate the diversity of passerines in the area, you will have to stop and check the treetops along the way. Hooded, worm-eating, pine warblers, northern parula and Louisiana waterthrush all nest nearby, as do blue-gray gnatcatchers and red-eyed vireos. During migration, all sorts of surprises could occur from a kettle of broad-winged hawks to a skulking Connecticut warbler. If the birding potential is not enough to draw you in, the creek hosts a good variety of damsel- and dragonflies, as well as butterflies which can be especially numerous in early summer when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
From the Previous Site on the James River Loop of VBWT:
From Walnut Creek Park follow Rt. 631 south for 2.0 miles to South Garden and Rt. 712. Turn left (east) on Rt. 712 and follow it for approximately 2.2 miles to Rt. 717. Turn right on Rt. 717 and continue for 5.5 miles to SR 6. Turn right (west) on SR 6 and go about 2.0 miles to Rt. 800. Turn left on Rt. 800 and go about 0.5 miles and turn left onto Rt. 602. After approximately 2.0 miles turn right onto Rt. 617, where the driving tour begins, and follow it 6.9 miles to Rockfish River Depot. From here, continue the driving tour along Rt. 617 for 4.6 miles to its intersection with US 29, which marks the end of the driving tour route.