Imagine yourself cruising down the James River in Virginia, floating on a pontoon boat… you’re just about to take a sip of your iced tea when SPLASH! A majestic creature once thought to be extinct breaks the waves in front of you, jumping five feet into the air! How can I make this vision a reality, you ask? By joining the James River Association (JRA) on their beloved “Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon” outings!
A sturgeon sighting trip is just one of the many unforgettable experiences you could have through guided river tours better known as JRA’s “Connect with the James” program, which continues to grow every year by providing trips in the greater Richmond and Williamsburg areas. JRA was able to get 550 passengers on the water through Connect with the James last year in 2021, up from 278 the year before, and the organization has a goal to double the number again in 2022 with an exciting refresh centered on the hybrid of new themes and tried-and-true adventures.
In essence, Connect with the James offers participants the opportunity to relax and enjoy a guided journey on the water while also learning about the history, wildlife, culture, and natural resources of the James River and its tributaries. Riders can sign up to take a kayak, canoe, or pontoon boat ride with options that include exploring the habitats of migratory birds, discovering marshlands filled with aquatic animals, unwinding on a sunset cruise, and more.
For 2022, the program will expand options to spend time on the James (and make a difference for the river) with more themed trips like fish trawling adventures, eco-tours, and historical paddles. JRA also hopes to add off-the-water excursions like hiking, biking, and trash cleanups to the already tempting roster, partnering with organizations like Riverside Outfitters and Starr Hill Brewery to diversify programming options. And, for further incentive, the part that seals the deal for many folks is knowing that signing up for a Connect with the James trip translates to giving back to our waterways, with 100% of the trip cost going towards JRA’s vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities.
“The James River is often referred to as America’s Founding River. Its waters have shaped our cultures and shared history, and 2.7 million people rely on it for clean drinking water,” said Mike Lyden, JRA’s Operations Manager. “From finding a calm refuge hiking the Appalachians, to premier urban whitewater in Richmond, and all the way down to enjoying the tidal flats, the James truly provides a place for everyone. We’re excited to provide another season of this program so that everyone can connect to the James and find their ideal river adventure.”
JRA’s Connect with the James programs are currently running with opportunities to enjoy and explore Virginia’s favorite river through October 2022. You may want to bookmark their website and check back often, as new adventures will be released throughout the year. Head to connectwiththejames.org to sign up for a trip and give back to the James today!