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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Taking Care of the James River Can be Fun

May 01, 2021 09:54AM ● By Shay Wilson

More and more studies are being released supporting the concept that time spent in our blue and green spaces promotes healing, soothes depression and anxiety and uplifts our spirits. Having endured one of the most stressful and uncertain years in recent history, it’s easy to see how nature, with its calming, reliable, life-giving presence can provide such a strong refuge and source of peace.

In Richmond, we are fortunate to have access to an amazing park system smack dab in the middle of our city, based around the mighty James River that runs through downtown. James River Association - 211 Rocketts Way Suite 200, Richmond, VA (JRA) has been the sole organization dedicated to protecting this river from its headwaters in the Alleghany Highlands to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay for the past 45 years.

Through four main areas of watershed restoration, student education, advocacy for clean-water funding and community conservation efforts, JRA has improved the health of the James from one of the most polluted rivers in America during the mid-1970s to the healthiest major tributary flowing into the Bay, according to the most recent Chesapeake Bay Watershed Report Card.

A key part of JRA’s mission is to connect people to the river and inspire a greater appreciation by educating them about its natural resources, wildlife and history. No better program provides this than guided river trips called Connect with the James. All Connect with the James trips are led by American Canoe Association-certified JRA environmental educators who feel their own profound connection to our waterways. Each trip is kept small to ensure personal attention for the participants, provide a deeper bond to surrounding nature and highlight what makes that area environmentally and historically special.

There are several options to choose from, including kayaking, canoeing, pontoon boat rides and hybrid trips that add on hiking and birding options. In September, there’s even a chance to see Atlantic sturgeon, once thought to be extinct, majestically breaching during their annual migration.

Connect with the James trips support JRA’s mission to take care of the James. Participants are giving an everlasting gift of a beautiful, clean and healthy river in which future generations can seek the same kind of healing and enjoyment.


To see the full schedule and book a trip, visit


Wriiten by Erin Hillert

Erin Hillert is the marketing and communications manager with the James River Association.