The James River Park System - Richmond, VA

Science in the Park


Science in the Park provides science-focused educational materials about the geology, habitats, and flora and fauna of the James River Park System in Richmond, VA.

We hope to enrich the Park experience for local and regional school systems, communities, visitors and regular users of the park through web-based, self-directed explorations, guides, videos, and lesson plans. Only when people know something can they love it; only when people love something will they cherish and protect it.
Join our iNaturalist team and upload your photos and observations to our James River Park project on ยป

photo of underwater

Rock Pools
Urban Forest

Our project has been funded by ALTRIA. It is a collaborative effort between Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Rivers Center, Department of Biology, Ralph White, the Friends of the James River Park, the City of Richmond’s James River Park System, and many, many other talented and knowledgeable individuals.


ancarrow photoAncarrow wildflower photographs delight, inform

Newton Ancarrow, a Richmond boatbuilder, environmentalist, and James River Park advocate, took thousands of wildflower photos in the 60s and 70s. Now these beautiful images, documenting more than 400 species, are available digitally through the efforts of the VCU Library in conjunction with the VCU RICE Rivers Center and Lewis Ginter Botannical Gardens. Visit the plants page to find out more.

iNaturalist workshop for park fans

i naturalist screenshotBecome part of iNaturalist, a worldwide team of outdoor lovers creating a "living record of life on Earth" through digital photographs and sound files posted by team members. Our JRP team is documenting species throughout the James River Park System, but you don't have to be an expert in photography or identification to join. Beginners welcome and encouraged.

First, local naturalist Paul Bedell will introduce you to the iNaturalist website and to our James River Park System Project. Next, we will walk in the park and photograph whatever kind of plant or animal you enjoy. Then back to Park Headquarters to prepare your images and post them to the site.

Date: check back soon for more workshops
Time: usually 9 am to noon
Location: James River Park Headquarters building, Reedy Creek, 4001 Riverside Drive, Richmond, VA 23225 (Drive through the Reedy Creek parking area, across the RR tracks, turn right, continue to the HQ building on your left, and park.)

Mobile apps are available.

Registration is required and participation is limited.
Contact Anne Wright at to register.

Birders and fans of the park!

See VCU scientists in action as they capture and band Prothonotary Warblers in the James River Park System to track the birds' movements between their breeding grounds in Virginia and wintering grounds in Latin America. The researchers will also discuss the role of differing wetland habitats in the warbler life cycle, from riparian forests in Richmond to mangrove forests in Colombia. Download the flyer (PDF)

Date: Wednesday, May 25
Time: 8:00am
Location: Wetlands entrance
3401 Landria Dr.
Richmond VA 23225

Our Animals are now on Facebook!

FacebookThe game cameras in the James River Park System are catching park wildlife so often that we've created a Facebook page so that you can see the latest as these candid photos and videos become available. Check out Urban Wildlife JRPS on Facebook.

Coyote in the Park!

Have you been waiting for video proof of the coyote? We have it, finally caught on camera in January 2016. Check it out!

Vernal Pools

egg sac from vernal poolIf the term "vernal pools" is new to you, they are pools of water in the woods or grasslands that appear in the late winter or spring but usually dry up as the summer heat progresses. Because they are ephemeral, they usually contain no fish, which means that amphibians and insects can deposit their eggs there with less fear of predation. Vernal pools do appear within parts of the James River Park System; please be careful and do not step on egg masses inside them!

If you are on Facebook, consider liking the page Vernal Pools VA to see some great photographs of what some of our state's pools are harboring now.

Urban Forest

New ot the site in 2016 is our section on the urban forest. The trees in the James River Park System provide valuable services to us. The section will grow, with a lesson plan coming soon. Start by watching our video and learn how our JRPS trees are a critical part of our urban infrastructure. Visit the Urban Forest section.

New Audio Tours

audio tour screen shotExplore the secrets of the James River Parks' unique geology with these new smart phone audio tours. Former James River Park Manager Emeritus Ralph White narrates these guided tours of the North and South bank. Follow along on your mobile device, guided by live mapping. Read the Times Dispatch article about the tours, and check them out yourself:

headphone icon Take the North Tour or the South Tour.

And don't miss the chance to take the tour with its creators: Enjoy the Belle Isle North GeoTour sound walk with Vaughn Garland, Ralph White and Anne Wright, on Thurs, Aug 20 from 6-7:30 pm. Bring your smart phone, ear buds or headphones and meet at the Tredegar St parking lot at 5:45. South GeoTour sound walk date TBA.

iNaturalist Project Continues to Grow

Become part of a worldwide team of outdoor lovers as we photograph and record the plants and animals of James River Park on iNaturalist, a website that is creating a "living record of life on Earth" Your digital photographs and sound file records will document the species in the Park, but don't worry if you are not an expert in photography or species identification. Beginners welcome and encouraged, and this is a great resource for teachers!

Check back for upcoming training.

Science in the Park Video in RVA Environmental Film Festival

The latest Science in the Park video on blueback herring and American shad spawning in our great river was a runner up selection in the 2015 RVA Environmental Film Festival and was shown on the big screen in February 2015.