Connect with the James

James River Guided Paddles

Join us for guided canoe and kayak trip on the James River and its tributaries to ‘Paddle to Protect’.

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 & the Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon with James River Association!

Bonfire Fundraiser

Connect with the James is a guided river trip program provided by James River Association that fosters a deep and profound relationship between river lovers and Virginia’s most precious natural resource. Through Connect with the James, participants have the opportunity to relax with a beautiful journey on the water while learning about the fascinating history, wildlife, culture, and natural resources of the James River and its tributaries. They also get an inside look at how we all play a critical role in preserving the river’s health.

By supporting Connect with the James, you are helping to ensure that we have a swimmable, fishable, and drinkable river to share, protect, and enjoy now and throughout future generations.

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...

Watercolors by the James

Join JRA Staff Scientist Erin Reilly and Restoration Director Amber Ellis for an afternoon of watercolor painting by the river. After meeting at Pony Pasture Park in Richmond, Virginia, Erin and Amber will talk to you about their experiences working on and for the James, and how art allows them to slow down and reconnect with the river. Learn and practice simple watercolor techniques to capture your experience by the James. This is for all levels, art supplies will be provided, but feel free to bring your own if you have them. Immediately following the event, participants are welcome to gather nearby at Artspace, where refreshments will be provided.

Participation is limited to 20 participants. Please register at the link below!

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. All proceeds go directly to our programing and connecting others to our river. Join our mission and ‘Paddle to Protect’.

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.

Paddle to Protect

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:

None at this time.

Paddle Through History – Manakintowne and the Huguenots

JRA Hosted Kayak & SUP Eco Tour with Riverside Outfitters

Join our Riverside Outfitters and JRA staff as they share intriguing knowledge about the rich history of our River City on America’s founding river…the mighty James. Get ready to connect with this river-based learning experience that will inspire ecological understanding, nature appreciation, and conservation action. You will also find that this section of river is teeming with wildlife year round– ranging from colorful flowers and foliage, a healthy fish and turtle population and birds of all sizes– including majestic Great Blue Herons and Snowy Egrets. We even have regular Bald Eagle sightings!! 

Get ready to add paddling skills to your quiver along with an abundance of facts you will learn during this trip! Our guides are ready to teach you the basics of paddle boarding so that you can cruise along with us during the tour. All skill levels welcome! Ages 10 and up, with participating adult, are welcome and basic swimming skills are required.

5% of trip proceeds will be donated to the James River Association.

Trip Dates:

None at this time

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:

None at this time 

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:

None at this time

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:

None at this time

3-Hour Trip Dates:

None at this time

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:

None at this time

Pontoon Boat Tours

Join the staff of JRA and Artspace for a brand new experience on our educational pontoon boat, The Spirit of the James, and spend a couple hours sketching the James just down river of Richmond in Hopewell. Art Journaling is a journey of its own. We are going to explore a section of the James River discovering the possibilities of mark making in time, place and so much more. There will be instruction as we travel to our destination and the opportunity to explore the scenic James. No matter what your drawing skills, we are going to experience something new, something old, and a connection to a special place. JRA is excited to welcome Paul “Buddy” Terrell aboard the cruise, a local Richmond artist and Artspace Exhibition Committee Chair, as our special guest instructor. $30 per participant.

Trip Dates:

None at this time.

Sunrise Sketching Cruise

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:

None at this time.

You will have a chance to ride on our educational pontoon boat, The Spirit of the James, as well as experience JRA educators doing a fish trawl in Herring Creek. This educational experience will give you an opportunity to learn about and see for yourself the fish that live in the James River! Departing from Jordan Point Marina in Hopewell, VA on our 40-foot pontoon boat. $30 per participant.

Trip Dates:

None at this time.

Species of the James – Fish Trawl

The Great Return

Celebrate James River Week and the Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon with the James River Association! Join staff members on 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 (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. Ages 16 and up with a participating guardian are welcome.

Trips have ended for 2022.