Connect with the James

James River Guided Paddles

Join the James River Association on guided canoe and kayak programs on the James River and its tributaries in the Richmond region.

Pontoon Boat Tours

Join our education team on ‘The Spirit of the James’, for a tour near Richmond, VA.

The Great Return

Celebrate James River Week and the Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon with the James River Association!

James River Rx

Spending time in nature, especially near water, offers great benefits to our emotional, mental, and physical well being. Take care of yourself and join James River Association staff members on an upcoming program to learn about the river and become a better steward of our natural resources.

James River Rx: Space for the ‘Wild’

When was the last time you saw something that just made you think “How is something this beautiful on Earth even possible!?” For me, it was a recent visit to our beautiful Upper James watershed. We are so lucky to have such large protected areas of wilderness in our...

James River Rx: Stop and See the Colors

And just like that, Autumn is here! The cool air, the smell of backyard bonfires, the twirling leaves as they fall from the trees, and the colors...all of the colors! It starts with the yellows of Goldenrod and the purples of Mistflower and New York Ironweed. Then our...

James River Rx: Rest Up Friends, the Earth Needs You

I see you friends, and I know you have moments of feeling heavy and at times, discouraged. This moment where the Earth is asking us to be part of a collective healing, can be overwhelming and at times a lot to hold. I see so many passionate, humble, and knowledgeable...

James River Rx – Finding Support along the Riverbanks

One thing is for certain, life will bring us highs and lows, moments of calm and moments of chaos. How do we manage to stay grounded through it all? This is a practice that we learn as we grow and observing nature can often give us insight into solutions. Our riparian...

James River Rx – What if

This month’s Rx blog is inspired by a June visit to the Upper James watershed for a Field Day that we, the James River Association along with partners, hosted in the Catawba Valley. I ended up staying in Roanoke and paid a little visit to the Roanoke River Blueway....

James River Rx – In the Forest, I am not Alone

Walks along the river in May were filled with vibrant greens, dancing birds, caterpillars inching along to their next meal, wild geraniums and coreopsis blooming, and people, enjoying the warm spring days. Ever since I was a child, the forest is where I feel...

James River Rx – Reciprocity: A Key Part of the Ecotherapy Equation

The James River and its forested banks are one of the most healing spaces that I know. There is a ton of science to back up why our riparian areas are so good at this, but based on the increase in visits to many of our riverside parks over the past year, we obviously...

(Re)Connect to Nature – A Practice in Finding Hearts

It’s so important for us to have a daily or at least weekly practice that gives us a moment to slow down, be present, and interact with the natural world. Not all of us are lucky enough to live in walking distance of a park, but simply finding a spot in your yard or...

(Re)Connect to Nature

Each month we are going to support you in exploring a deeper relationship with nature through connection exercises, upcoming programs, and resources that may offer inspiration and guidance. There is a ton of research that proves our health is improved by a greater...

FAQ’s and Paddle/Boat Registration Information

Preregistration is required for all programs. Participants must review and agree to the Essential Eligibility Criteria and the Release and Waiver of Liability to participate. The James River Association will provide canoes and kayaks, paddles, and personal flotation devices to participants. Participants are encouraged to bring sunscreen, a hat, a reusable water bottle, and wear comfortable clothing appropriate for being outdoors and getting wet.

If you have any questions about our programs, please contact Mike Lyden at 

Cancellation Policy

Registration fees are not refundable, in the event of a cancellation, we will change your fee to a tax deductible donation. Please cancel your trip a minimum of 72 hours in advance so we have ample time to alert our staff. In the event a program is canceled, James River Association staff members will make an effort to reschedule it. 

Sign up for notifications

Interested in a paddle that hasn’t opened for registration? Our guided Connect with the James paddles fill up quickly, sign up here to receive a notification when trip registration open.

Connect with the James FAQs

I received an email about a trip, but I do not see it listed below. How can I find it?

Some of our trips fill up very quickly. If you received an email about an open trip, but the booking information is not listed below, the trip has been filled. Some trips fill within 12 hours of an announcement.

What ages can participate?

Anyone ages 16 and over may participate on a Connect with the James paddle. We do require a parent or guardian to register and fill out the waiver on the minors behalf.

Do you supply all the equipment?

Yes, JRA supplies the vessel, life jacket, paddle and shuttling of equipment. Participants are required to wear closed toe shoes, and are encouraged to wear sunscreen lotion, a hat and attire appropriate for the weather and bring a water bottle.

Can I move to a different trip?

We can possibly move your trip registration to a later date, if spots are available. Please contact to inquire about a rebooking, at least one week in advance of your scheduled trip.

Can I get a refund?

In the event of a weather cancellation, we will do everything we can to rebook you to a new trip date. If you are unable to make your trip, please let us know at least three days in advance and we can move you to a different trip. Registration fees are not refundable, in the event of a cancellation that can not be rescheduled, we will change your fee to a tax deductible donation.

Where do I meet the trip guide?

Each paddle below has a google map to the location site. Please use those directions to guide you to the appropriate location.

Guided Paddle Trips

Buffers & Boats Field Day

Trip Dates:
Thursday, May 26, 2022: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Join us, and our conservation partners, to tour a local James River Buffer Program project, hear from partner speakers and enjoy a trip on the James.

Rotating Educational Presentations to include:

Dr. Bill Trout (Virginia Canals & Navigations Society) will speak on river locks and share local maps and the history of the Batteau.
Nancy Lilly (Lynchburg Water Resources) will share local water quality initiatives, such as the Bee City initiative.
Kelly Hitchcock (CVPDC) will provide an overview of regional water quality initiatives.
Hear from James River Buffer Program participants through interview videos and JRA staff.

  • 8:45am: Meet at Riveredge Park
  • 9am – 11:30 am Field trip to a living buffer project tour
  • Free lunch
  • 12-1:00: Rotate around to learn more about your local water quality and conservation initiatives.
  • 1-1:30 pm: Hear from batteau historians
  • 1:30-3 pm: End the day with an opportunity to ride or paddle along with JRA’s very own batteau!
  • 3:30pm: Optional tour at Virginia Canals and Navigation Society Museum

Registration is free and required for lunch and participation on river trips.

Have you ever wondered who came up with some of the street and town names around Richmond, words like Hugeunot and Manakin? Is there a magic wheel somewhere to spin that compiles letters into words? The answer is no, these names represent the settlers and people that came to Richmond when it was the Frontier, the unknown west. Join our guides on a paddle through the historic Huguenot Flatwater as we discuss the rich history of the region and the settlers of earlier times that traveled the James River to the edge of the frontier!

Trip Dates:

Thursday, June 2, 2022: 5:30 pm
Tuesday, July 12, 2022: 5:30 pm

Paddle Through History – Manakintowne and the Huguenots

JRA Hosted Kayak & SUP Eco Tour with Riverside Outfitters

Whether you are new to kayaking/ stand up paddleboarding or you are a seasoned pro, Riverside Outfitter’s Flatwater Kayaking & SUP Trips offer a chance for anyone to experience Richmond VA in an exciting way! Two things Riverside’s guides are passionate about are spending quality time on the James River and sharing it with others. Allow them to teach you and your family & friends the basic techniques of Kayaking & SUP, such as safety, hydrology, proper body mechanics and a variety of paddle strokes…all on a flat, calm section of the James River. AND, in these special Eco Tour trips, hear from special guest stars, Justin Doyle & Mike Lyden, who will be sharing many intriguing facts about the rich history of this River City on America’s founding river. Meet at Tredegar Boat Ramp across from 470 Tredegar St, Richmond, VA 23219.

Trip Dates:
Wed. May 11, 2022: 5:30 pm

The Fall Line of the James River in Richmond is full of history! While today it serves as one of the US’s premier urban whitewater destinations, in the years prior it has provided for a vibrant and prosperous history. Join our guides on a paddle trip from Ancarrow’s Landing up to the Fall Line of the James and hear the stories of world class speed boats, Parisian Bridges and many of the other great wonders the James River has provided.

Trip Dates:

Wed. May 18, 2022: 5:30 pm
Tues. May 24, 2022: 5:30 pm

Paddle Through History – The Fall Line of the James

Explore Powhatan Creek by Kayak

Join the James River Association for a guided tour of Powhatan Creek by kayak. Participants will launch from James City County Marina and learn about the natural and historic resources of Powhatan Creek and the James River. Kayaks, paddles, and personal flotation devices will be provided by James City County. 

Demand is high and these trips fill up fast. Because these trips are free – registration will open 2 weeks prior to the trip date. If you would like to be notified when trips open, please register for the notifications above. 

Trip Dates:

Wed. May 18, 2022: 5:30 pm
Mon. June 6, 2022: 5:30 pm
Wed. July 6, 2022: 5:30 pm
Mon. August 1, 2022: 5:30 pm
Wed. September 7, 2022: 5:30 pm

We offer a one or three-hour trip on our period-accurate replica of a James River Batteau. This large 40 foot long vessel provides ample room for up to 6 passengers to enjoy the local sights on the James River near Lynchburg. On the trip you will see old structures from the days of the Canal along the James, as well as experience the soaring views of the city as we float by. There are a variety of wildlife species to spot on this trip, and you will learn more about environmental conditions of the river as well as ways to protect the river for future generations. The trip starts and ends right at our office located in RiveredgePark in Amherst County which is directly across the river from downtown Lynchburg. Max Participants – 6; 1-hour trip $25, 3-hour trip $60

1-Hour Trip Dates:

Friday, May 20, 2022; 1:00 pm

3-Hour Trip Dates:

Saturday, May 21, 2022: 10:00 am

Lynchburg Batteau Trips

Guided 3-Hour Paddle Trip in Lynchburg

Spend a morning or afternoon taking a quiet guided trip on the James River in Lynchburg, VA. Our paddle trips last approximately 3-4 hours, depending on river levels, and are guided by our expert American Canoe Association and Wilderness First Aid trained staff. This paddle will take you by the city of Lynchburg and through picturesque Amherst and Campbell Counties. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as beaver, eagles, osprey, deer, and fish. And paddlers on this trip have even reported seeing river otters playing in the cool, crisp waters of the James! 

Trip Dates:

Thurs. June 2, 2022; 10 am

Pontoon Boat Tours

Join us and our Partners across the Watershed on Saturday, May 21st, 2022 for a global celebration of free-flowing rivers and migratory fish! Take a ride on the Spirit of the James and learn about the migratory fish of the James River in Richmond!

Learn about fish habitats, spawning, and the challenges they face. During the trip, we will have aquariums on board to give you an up-close look at the species found in the James.  $20 per participant.

Trip Dates:

Saturday, May 21st 2022 – 10 am
Saturday, May 21st 2022 – 11:30 am

World Fish Migration Day Boat Tour

Pontoon Boat Outing and Bird Tour

The tidal freshwater section of the James river from Richmond to the mouth of Chickahominy River is an Audubon Important Bird Area. Thousands of waterfowl spend the winter in this area around Presquille NWR. Aptly named, Turkey Island is home to both quail and turkey as well as an important habitat for migratory birds especially the prothonotary warbler. Bald Eagle, Osprey, and Kingfisher are also common nesters we can spot from the boat. If we are lucky the pair of Peregrine Falcon that nest on the Benjamin Harrison Bridge may be active. This outing is in high demand and not to be missed! $30 per participant.

Trip Dates:

Sat. June 11, 2022: 9am/12pm

Enjoy a sunset cruise departing from Jordan Point Marina in Hopewell, VA on our 40-foot pontoon boat. Join fellow river enthusiasts and learn about the natural and historic resources of the James River. $30 per participant.

Trip Dates:

None at this time.

Sunset Pontoon Boat Tour

The Great Return

Celebrate James River Week and the Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon with the James River Association! Join staff members on a guided canoe program or an outing on the Spirit of the James, the James River Association’s pontoon boat. Participants will learn about the natural resources of the James River and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, which make an annual migration up the James River in late summer where they often can be seen breaching out of the water!


 The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon (Canoe Programs – Ages 16+) $20/participant

Celebrate James River Week and the Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon with the James River Association! Join staff members on a guided canoe program launching from either Osborne Park & Boat Landing or Ancarrow’s Landing. Participants will learn about the natural resources of the James River and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, which make their annual spawning migration up the James River in late summer. 

September 2022

The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon (Pontoon Boat – Spirit of the James) $25/participant

Celebrate James River Week and the Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon with the James River Association! Join staff members for an outing on the Spirit of the James launching from Rocketts Landing Marina. Participants will learn about the natural resources of the James River and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon, which make their annual spawning migration up the James River in late summer.

September 2022