Close this search box.

Connect with the James River and Be a James Changer

Kayaker on the James River

From canoe trips to refreshing dips, the James River is a great way to enjoy Virginia’s natural beauty. But whether you’re on the water every day or dipping your toes in for the very first time, it’s important to know that clean water is no accident. That’s why the James River Association (JRA) works vigilantly to protect the James River and connect people like you to it.

For 45 years, JRA has been a guardian of the river, helping to improve its health and connect communities through increased river access, education programs, recreational activities, and volunteer cleanups.

They also have useful tools, maps, and guides to help you plan your next river outing. So, whether you’re just looking for a fun summer outing or want to keep the James healthy and safe for the future, the James River Association has countless ways to get involved and enjoy all that the river has to offer.

Practice your Paddling

Located across from historic downtown Lynchburg, James River Adventures—operated by the James River Association—offers nature-lovers a chance to explore this picturesque section of the James. They offer canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels—making it the perfect way to enjoy cruising the city’s riverfront and navigating the nearby riffles, pools and rock ledges. 

Canoe Expedition along the James River
Canoe Expedition along the James River, Provided by the James River Association

Experience the River with the Help of an Expert

JRA’s “Connect with the James” Guided Outings are open to the public and provide a one-of-a-kind experience, enjoying the water while learning about the wildlife, history and natural resources of the James River and its tributaries.

The 2021 season includes trips at various locations along the James River, including:

  • Guided canoe tours of Powhatan Creek in James City County
  • Guided canoe tours of Turkey Island Creek in Henrico County
  • Sturgeon-sighting trips near downtown Richmond
  • Hybrid pontoon boat trips to Presquile Wildlife National Refuge that combine boating with hiking, birding, or canoeing options, and more
Group of kayakers on the James
Group of kayakers on the James River. Provided by the James River Association

Extend the Fun with an Overnight Camp 

For many people, a few hours on the water just isn’t enough. Fortunately, the James provides ample opportunities for overnight camping. From the Alleghany Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay, the James River basin offers plenty of places to camp during the warmer months of the year. You can explore JRA’s dedicated resources for campers and even view a webinar with camping advice from our experts on the JRA website.

Taking a dip in the James River
Taking a dip in the James River, Provided by the James River

Give Back, Preserve the River and Be a James Changer

Once you’ve experienced the beauty and serenity of the James, you’ll understand its importance, and why so many Virginians are passionate about keeping it healthy and clean.

If you want to get involved, JRA offers several easy ways to give back and be a James Changer.

Volunteer for a Cleanup

Don’t mind getting your hands dirty? JRA is always looking for people to plant trees, remove invasive plant species, clean up trash, and more. Check out their calendar for a full list of volunteer opportunities.

A group of James River Association volunteers planting a tree
A group of James River Association volunteers planting a tree, Provided by the James River Association

Speak Up for the James by Signing up for the JRA Action Network

Help strengthen the voice of the river. The Action Network keeps citizens up to date on the latest river policy issues and connects you to elected officials so you can let them know that clean water and a healthy James are important to you.

Become a RiverRat

The JRA RiverRats volunteer program isn’t for the faint of heart. RiverRats undergo extensive training and carry out at least three river patrols and one community action project per year. But you’ll join over 200 other passionate volunteers who do everything from attending JRA outreach events to setting sensors to track Atlantic sturgeon with university researchers.

JRA RiverRats canoeing on the James
JRA RiverRats canoeing on the James, Provided by the James River Association

Make a Donation to JRA

You don’t need to make a big donation to make a big impact. Even a donation of just $10 can fund five freshwater mussels to help clean the river by filtering 70 gallons of water per day. $60 can pay for a student to participate in a JRA education program and $500 can plant 100 trees to restore a streamside forest. Make a donation today!

Sign Up to Stay Connected

Cover photo: Kayaker on the James, Photo by Todd Wright, Provided by the James River Association

Follow JRA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or sign up on our website to be the first to know about issues and events related to your beloved river.

The James River, Provided by the James River Association
The James River, Provided by the James River Association

For a full list of ways to connect with the James, visit or consider becoming a member. Because when you change the James, the James will change you.

Share this post:

Discover more in the Blue Ridge:

Join our newsletter!

Subscribe to receive the latest from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine sent directly to your inbox.