Virginia’s largest river, the James River is one of the Chesapeake Bay region’s most historically significant waterways.

The river begins at the convergence of the Cowpasture and Jackson Rivers. The upper river runs to Lynchburg. The James River’s middle section runs from Lynchburg to Richmond.

The tidal portion of the James River extends from the fall line in Richmond to Hampton Roads where the river merges with other waterways before emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. Near its terminus, the City of Newport News is home to important shipbuilding and military support infrastructure.

Major tributaries of the James River include the Appomattox, Chickahominy, Cowpasture, Hardware, Jackson, Maury, Rivanna, and Tye rivers.

James River Attractions

The Upper James River Trail extends roughly 220 miles across nine counties. In 2012, the Upper James River Trail became part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The annual James River Batteau Festival celebrates the river’s historic batteau boats. A highlight of the festival is a 120 mile batteau run.

In Richmond, The James River Park System includes over 550 acres of shoreline, islands, and most of the fall line of the James River.

Related Information

Chesapeake Bay Watershed