Canoe or Kayak the Upper James River

Virginia Horseshoe Bend Boat Ramp

Added by Kenton Steryous

Whether fishing or just leisurely paddling down river, the Upper James is the perfect 3-4 hour float with just enough riffles and Class I rapids to keep things interesting.

Put in at the Horseshoe Bend Boat Ramp near Buchanan, VA. The pin on the map will take you right there. Takeout will be at the boat ramp in downtown Buchanan, approximately 9 miles down river. This ramp is located just above the Rt. 11 bridge.Twin River Outfitters uses this ramp also, so there's usually plenty of activity around to draw your attention. It's not hard to find...when you start to see the town of Buchanan, just be on the lookout for the only ramp around. Since the put in and takeout is in different locations, you'll obviously need to coordinate vehicles, or another option is to use the shuttle service provided by Twin River Outfitters. Click their link to find out current pricing and details for that option. They also offer canoe, kayak, and tube rentals.

This section of the James River provides good current, with plenty of riffles, Class I, and even a couple Class II rapids. The surrounding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains make this route one of the best around. You'll pass by a few houses, but the majority of the trip will be through farmland and forests, with plenty of gravel bar beaches to pull up to and take a swimming break.

Additionally, the James River is home to one of the best Smallmouth Bass populations, so don't forget your rod. Just be mindful that if you are going to fish, the trip will likely take longer than the 3-4 hours mentioned. This river trip is great for both individuals or groups of friends or family. And if you go in early July, you can finish your float and then enjoy the Buchanan Carnival!

Pack List

  • Canoe/Kayak
  • Snacks/Water
  • Camera
  • Towels
  • Change of clothes
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Canoeing, Chillin, Fishing, Kayaking, Photography, Rafting, Stand Up Paddle, Swimming

Skill Level:






Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area

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How to Get There

23 days ago

Tension free!

This is a great float that I've completed probably 100 times. It's a great photography float if you're into snapping pics and be sure to bring along a fishing pole. Stop at the outfitter and walk across the street to Brink Of The James for great food and craft beer!

23 days ago

Added by Kenton Steryous

Adventurer, Photographer, Rock Climber, Fly Fisher

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