River Canoeing or Kayaking in Richmond, Virginia

Getting on the river is the perfect relaxing hot summer day adventure.  And around Richmond, Virginia, there are plenty of different opportunities close by.  But the biggest is The James River, the Region’s greatest natural resource.  

There are no other cities where you can kayak and raft class III and IV rapids in an urban setting. That’s a fact.  Richmond is the only place in the country where you can run the rapids, pull out and walk to a downtown brewery, bar or restaurant.  

According to our friends at Riverside Outfitters, “Whether you’re after a thrill ride in Class III to IV whitewater or you’re interested in a more relaxing whitewater rafting experience, the James River has what you’re looking for! You’ll quickly see why Richmond was named Outdoor Magazine’s “Best River Town” in 2012.”   There are several outfitters that you can contact to raft, kayak, or paddleboard the James, but Riverside Outfitters offer a wide array of trips on different sections of the James for different experiences to find your perfect match: 

James River

Falls of the James

A flagship whitewater rafting trip down the Upper and Lower sections of the James River.

Lower River Rafting Trip

Our most popular raft trip…take the plunge through the bigger rapids downtown!

Upper River Rafting Trip

If you have children between the ages of 5 and 10 and/or if you’re looking for a chiller ride with smaller waves, plenty of awesome scenery, and swimming, the Upper River trip is for you!

Evening Trip

Take advantage of this unique offering to enjoy RO’s Lower River Raft trip amid a beautiful RVA evening. Awash in the gold, orange, and pink of a gorgeous summer evening sky, we’ll plunge through the lit-up cityscape of downtown.

There are more rivers to explore around the Richmond area.  Here are a few you may want to grab your canoe or kayak and head out to: 

Rivanna River




River/Creek (up to Class II)

Mattaponi River

Aylett – Between Richmond and Tappahannock



River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Dutch Gap

Chester  – Henricus Park



River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Presquile Island Wildlife Refuge

Across from Historic Shirley Plantation on James River



River/Creek (Up to Class II)

South Anna River 




River/Creek (Up to Class II)

These are just a few places close by.   Drive just a little further towards the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Beach.  Head north towards Washington, DC to the Potomac River or west toward Roanoke.  The river adventures are endless in our beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia! For some other great outdoor activities take a peek at Grandkids and the Great Outdoors or our Mountain Getaways blog post. Enjoy!