The Dan River crosses the North Carolina-Virginia state line eight times on its way from the Blue Ridge Mountains to John H. Kerr Reservoir. The 3300-square-mile Dan River Basin comprises approximately one-third of the Roanoke River Basin. Major tributaries of the Dan River are the Mayo, Smith, Sandy, Banister, and Hyco rivers.
The Dan River flows 214 miles (344 km). It's headwaters are in Patrick County, Virginia, and crosses the state border into Stokes County, North Carolina. It then flows into Rockingham County, NC. From there it goes back into Danville, Virginia. It reenters North Carolina near the border between Caswell County and Rockingham County. It flows into northern Caswell County and then back into Southern Virginia and finally into Kerr Reservoir on the Roanoke River.
The name of the river was first recorded by William Byrd II in 1728, during an expedition to survey the Virginia border, though Byrd did not explain the reason for the name.
The Dan River Basin includes all or most of eight counties: Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania, and Halifax in Virginia, and Stokes, Rockingham, Caswell and Person in North Carolina. Smaller portions of eight more counties lie in the Dan River Basin: Floyd, Franklin, and Mecklenburg in Virginia, and Surry, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, and Granville in North Carolina.