Getting on the River

The James River offers both restful flatwater as well as heart‐pumping class IV rapids to entice river users of all abilities. However, each year, boating and swimming accidents occur because someone misjudges the water. Please take a minute to review the Park Rules and Safety Tips.

Kayaks and Canoes

Run the rapids of the upper section of the James or canoe the flatwater from the Huguenot Flatwater section of the park up to Bosher's Dam. See our Guided Tours and Instruction page for information on where you can rent a canoe or kayak or take a guided trip.

Experienced paddlers may put in at Pony Pasture and either take out at Reedy Creek, below the Boulevard Bridge, or, if advanced paddlers, continue on through the very dangerous Hollywood Rapids and take out at the Tredegar St. or 14th St. take outs.

Where to Put In/Take out

South of the River

  • Ancarrow’s Landing/Manchester Docks at the end of Brander St. has a concrete boat ramp suitable for motor boats.
  • Huguenot Flatwater and Pony Pasture Rapids have wooden boat ramps for canoes and kayaks.
  • Reedy Creek is a put-in for advanced paddlers capable of handling Class IV rapids. Otherwise it is the take-out for those paddling in from the west.

North of the River

  • 14th St.Take-out is just north of the 14th St. (Mayo) Bridge. It is the take out for the serious paddlers who’ve run Hollywood and Pipeline rapids.
  • Tredegar St. just east of the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge is a put-in and take-out for serious paddlers who can navigate Pipeline and other dangerous rapids.


Float the river in an inner tube from the Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek. This is a 3.5 mile trip through mostly relaxing water with several sets of rocks and small rapids towards the end. Use your own tube or get in touch with one of the local suppliers listed on our Guided Tours and Instruction page to float with a guide on a park program. Call 646-8911 for JRPS program information. DIYs -- read the RTD Guide to Tubing on the James (summer 2015)


Go wading with children in the shallow pools and rapids of the Pony Pasture Rapids or 42nd Street Rocks. Wear old tennis shoes and lifejackets depending on river level.  Do not swim in the rapids at Belle Isle. Consider using the sandy beach on the east end. Also, Pony Pasture is very crowded from late May to early September, making parking exceedingly difficult after 11 a.m. on weekends. If planning a summer swim at Pony Pasture, go early.

rafting group

Look before you leap, always remember to wear river shoes and don’t swim alone.