Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park features rolling grasslands, quiet forests and beautiful views, as well as three miles of shoreline along the James River. Visitors can hike, bike, canoe, kayak, fish or camp on the banks of the historic river or at Branch Pond. Facilities include cabins, a nature center, a gift shop, picnic shelters, multi-use trails, boat launches, campgrounds and equestrian camping. The park also has a universally accessible fishing pier and a quarter-mile-long wheelchair accessible trail around Green Hill Pond. James River State Park Outdoor Adventures, a full-service canoe livery, provides canoe, kayak, tube and bicycle rentals as well as shuttle services. For more information about the livery (open seasonally), call 434-933-8682. The park is also a great place to view the annual James River Batteau Festival. A replica of one of the unusual vessels is on display near Green Hill Pond.
Park Size: 1,500 acres
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Its address is 104 Green Hill Drive, Gladstone, VA 24553; Latitude, 37.623271. Longitude, -78.809896.
OVERNIGHT FACILITIES: The park has primitive camping, regular camping, a camping lodge (bunkhouse), cabins and lodges. For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK. Click here for park fees.
Click here for details on reservation cancellation and transfer policies. A fee is charged per pet per night for overnight stays.
Visit a Flickr photoset of typical cabins and lodges at the park. Cabins and lodges vary. Dwellings may not match what's shown in the photos.
Lodges: Lodge 5 (L005-SAT) begins renting weekly during prime season on Saturday; Lodge 16 (L016-SUN) begins renting weekly on Sunday. Late arriving guests will find on the entrance station door a note that explains how to register the following morning. A map with directions to the given lodge will also be there. Guests must have the reservation number for each reservation.
Cabins: During prime season, cabins 1-4 and 6-9 begin renting weekly on Saturday. Cabins 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18 rent weekly beginning on Sunday. No bed rentals. Late arriving guests will find on the entrance station door a note with instructions detailing how to register the following morning, as well as a park map with directions to the cabin. Guests must have the reservation number for each reservation.
Total sites of each cabin type: 2-bedroom frame, 14; 3-bedroom frame, 2; 6-bedroom lodge, 2
2-bedroom frame cabin - maximum six people, one bath, one queen bed, two sets of bunk beds (sleeps four)
3-bedroom frame cabin - maximum eight people, two baths, one queen bed, two single beds in second bedroom, two sets of bunk beds (sleeps four) in third bedroom
6-bedroom lodge – maximum 16 people, three baths, universally accessible, two queen size beds in two bedrooms, two single beds in two bedrooms, two sets of bunk beds each in two bedrooms (sleeps four in each room)
Total: 16 cabins; 2 lodges.
Camping: Camping reservations are highly recommended - call 1-800-933-7275. The park has four campgrounds. Two of them, Branch Pond and Canoe Landing, are open year-round for primitive camping. There are primitive restrooms at those campgrounds. Drinking water is unavailable in the primitive campgrounds, but potable water is available at five of the six picnic shelters. Canoe Landing is the only campground on the river.
Red Oak Campground has 30 regular sites with water and electricity and a full service bathhouse with laundry facilities. The campground, about one mile from the primitive campgrounds, is open annually from March 1 to the first Monday in December. It is not on the river. Reservations are not site-specific; choose any available site upon arrival. Check-in is 4 p.m.; check-out is 3 p.m. If you arrive earlier than 4 p.m., the park will accommodate you as soon as possible. You are welcome to enjoy the park until then.
Campers without a reservation, i.e., walk-ins, should make sure a site is available before submitting payment at the pay station. Visit the contact station or park office to reserve additional nights to ensure availability.
Note: You must have your reservation number(s) or confirmation letter with you at check-in. If someone else is checking in for you, make sure that person has reservation information. Be prepared to show a valid ID.
Branch Pond - Seven primitive sites in wooded area about two miles from the river (BranchPondPrimTent). Tents only. Each site has a tent pad.
Canoe Landing - Thirteen primitive sites beside the river (CanoeLandingPrimTent). Tents only. It's a short walk from vehicle parking to the campsites. These sites are to the left of the canoe launch when facing the river. No tent pads.
Canoe Landing Group Campsite (one primitive site; CLGroupCampsitePrim) - There's a group site near the canoe landing. The site accommodates up to 42 people - no hookups, tents only. It's near a restroom and features a fire-ring with a flip grill, five picnic tables and a pedestal grill. There's a $30 fee for canceling a group-camping reservation.
Canoe Landing Horse Campsites (five sites; CLHorsePrimCampsite) - Shaded and near Running Creek Trail. Tents and units up to 30 feet long are allowed or one rig per site. Four covered and two open stalls also may be rented. Horses must be in a stall or on a tether pole near the campsite. Only one horse is allowed per stall. No electric fencing permitted. Call 1-800-933-7275 to reserve a stall.
Red Oak Campground (30 sites, RedOakEW40ft)
Electric and water hookups; the sites are shaded and can accommodate various equipment (tents, pop-ups and RVs) up to 40 feet. The sites have large tent pads and wide driveways for bump-outs.
Horseshoe Campground (10 sites HorseshoeEW40ft)
Electric and water hookups; the sites are pull-through and allow two trailers to share a common area between them. There are 20 covered horse stalls, five tent pads and a group fire-ring in the campground.
Total sites of each type: RedOakEW40ft, 30; CanoeLandingPrimTent, 13; BranchPondPrimTent, 7; CLGroupCampsitePrim, 1; CLHorsePrimCampsite, 5; HorseshoeEW40ft, 10.
A contact station is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and on weekends after Labor Day when weather is suitable. Otherwise, pay-station parking and camping are strictly enforced.
Camping Lodge (bunkhouse) – Two-night minimum; no full-week requirement. This two-room trailer has seven bunk beds, a refrigerator, a microwave, a coffeepot, deck, and heating and air conditioning. Just outside is a shelter with two picnic tables, a fire ring and a charcoal grill. Cooking and smoking are not permitted inside the lodge. Parking for five vehicles is covered with rental of the lodge; all other vehicles must pay the park's daily parking fee. Available only during camping season, from March 1 to the first Monday in December. This facility is not sold 11 months in advance; it goes online in January each year. Check-in is 3 p.m., and check-out is 10 a.m.
The transfer deadline policy and cancellation and pet fees are the same as those for cabins.
Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of James River's trails.
WILDLIFE: Virginia State Parks are great places to discover and reconnect with the wild world. Bring a camera and share your captures with the world. But please don't disturb or get too close to the animals. The park is, after all, their home. Here are a few recent natural encounters others have had at James River.
View all wildlife encounter photos from James River.
Boating - This park has a car-top launch in the canoe landing area and a boat launch at Dixon Landing.
Click here to learn about the park's seasonal canoe livery service. Enjoy a trip out on the water, or rent a canoe, kayak, tube or bike.
HUNTING: Click here to learn about this park's hunting opportunities.
EVENTS: Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS: Programs are offered on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day and on some weekends during spring and fall by request. They include hikes, campfire programs, canoe floats, wagon rides, children's programs, crafts and more.
The park also hosts educational programs during the school year, and outreach programs are available to schools in the surrounding counties.
The park can accommodate requests for special programs. Call (434) 933-4395 or email email@example.com for details.
Memorial Day weekend activities, the James River Summer Festival, Independence Day festivities, Bluegrass Under the Stars, Sky Watch Astronomy programs, Labor Day weekend fun, the annual Fall Festival and Haunted Wagon Ride and much more. Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
PICNIC SHELTERS: Six picnic shelters and seven picnicking areas. Click here for park fees.
Six shelters are available for rent. They can be rented from 8 a.m. to dark (all day). Parking fees are not included in the shelter rental. All shelters are universally accessible.
Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee that is deducted from the refund.
Amenities: All shelters have a large party grill (1,368 square inches) and access to restroom facilities, except shelter 6. All are accessible to disabled people and all have a water hydrant (except shelter 6). All shelters accommodate up to 75 people. Three shelters have electricity and a light.
Shelter 1: In the picnic area on the way to the canoe landing campsites. In a wooded area close to the comfort station (100 feet). Large parking lot. The shelter features an electrical outlet and lights.
Shelter 2: In the picnic area on the way to the canoe landing campsites. Woods surround this shelter. It's the most secluded shelter and is about 300 feet from the comfort station. There's a small parking lot, but more parking is nearby.
Shelter 3: Near the amphitheater. It includes two horseshoe pits and a sand volleyball court - conveniently located near Shelter 4 for larger groups. Five hundred feet from the comfort station. Large parking lot with separate driveway.
Shelter 4: Near the amphitheater and a short walk from Green Hill Pond. About 100 feet from the comfort station. Parking pull off with additional parking nearby. The shelter features an electrical outlet and lights. Near Shelter 3.
Shelter 5: Beside Green Hill Pond; offers the best view of pond and river. Near the visitor center and 400 feet from the comfort station. One hundred feet from a wheelchair accessible trail and fishing pier. Small parking lot with additional parking nearby. The shelter features an electrical outlet and lights.
Shelter 6: About 300 feet from Dixon Landing, this shelter has a great view of the river. Hillside area close to Dixon Landing boat ramp. Has pull-off parking and additional parking nearby. The comfort station is about 1,000 feet away, near Green Hill Pond.
CONCESSIONS: The James River State Park Canoe Livery. Canoes, kayaks, tubes and bicycles can be rented in-season at James River State Park Outdoor Adventures in the canoe landing area. The canoe livery sells camping supplies, snacks, beverages, apparel, souvenirs and more.
RESTAURANT: The camp store has ice, food, snacks, ice cream, soda and more. There is a country store at Bent Creek, about seven miles from the park where Routes 60 and 605 intersect. The nearest restaurants and grocery stores are in Appomattox (19 miles) and Amherst (22 miles).
HISTORY: The waters of the James have shaped life in this area's past and will shape its future. Monacan Indians, the earliest known settlers, hunted, fished and traveled the river. In the early 1700s, the Cabell family settled along the river, cultivated the rich soils of the floodplain and shipped produce down river to Richmond. A flat-bottomed boat known as the bateau was invented and the Kanawha canal was built to make travel and shipping on the river easier. The James River brought people to this area, provided for their needs and helped them build a future.
FRIENDS GROUP: The Friends of James River State Park group helps the park with financial support and volunteerism. This nonprofit group enhances park programs, activities and facilities. Friends also increase the public’s awareness of the park’s educational and recreation benefits and opportunities. The group promotes the stewardship of James River State Park's natural and cultural resources. Contact Joanne Absher, 434-933-4355, for more information about the group.
Master plans must be written for parks before they're built.
The plans are updated at least once every five years thereafter.
The plans cover the size, types, infrastructure and locations of facilities as well as the site's special features and resources.
Three public meetings are held during the initial development of each plan.
Click here (PDF) for this park's master plan.
CONTACT INFO: James River State Park, 104 Green Hill Drive, Gladstone, VA 24553; 434-933-4355; firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 800-933-7275 or email email@example.com to learn more about park offerings. Be sure to specify the park of interest.