In the glory of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, you’ll find the breathtaking Upper James River Water Trail. The trail runs the first 64 miles of the stunning James River. 

With most of the stretch designated as a Virginia Scenic River, the area is a wonderland for water and outdoor recreation enthusiasts looking to camp, take to the river, do some finishing, and everything in between. It's also the perfect way to experience the scenic beauty of Botetourt County in Virginia's Blue Ridge.  


Twin River Outfitters Glamping - Upper James River Water Trail - Botetourt County, VA

When setting up camp on the Upper James River Water Trail, the options are many. 

Twin River Outfitters, a paddle sports business that provides single and multi-day camping trips based off the river, offers camping in Botetourt County at Arcadia, Gala, and Horseshoe Bend.

Add a touch of luxury to your outing with Twin River Outfitters glamping trips. Unlike traditional camping, the outfitters glamping excursion provides all the beauty of the James River with deluxe amenities to elevate your experience. Imagine cozy pre-set tents, comfortable cots, and a crackling fire ring with inviting camp chairs–all awaiting you after a scenic paddle down the river.

Book Your Trip: Twin River Outfitters >

Recommended Floats

Kayaking - Upper James River Water Trail - Botetourt County, VA

Experiencing the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains from the water provides a perspective unlike any other. Broken up into sections, the Upper James River Water Trail has numerous ways to enjoy a good float by canoe or kayak, depending on the section and water levels. Each section has its own difficulty level, so ensure you and your loved ones have the skill sets to stay safe. 

Check-in with authorities as difficulty levels and rapid classifications change as each section's water level rises and falls. Also, when water levels reach a certain height, it is unsafe to enter the river. 

The 13-mile float from Craig Creek to Horseshoe Bend boasts the most secluded trip on the trail. This float serves up several Class I rapids and a handful of Class II rapids during the five to seven-hour journey. It’s a full day’s commitment, so pack enough water and food for yourself and your fellow adventurers.

Iron Gate to Glen Wilton is a delightful 2.5-mile float with irresistible mountain views. With a quick current, you’ll pass through many Class I rapids and a single Class II rapid. You’re looking at an hour to 90 minutes from start to finish.

A quick and captivating float is Horseshoe Bend to Springwood, where you’ll encounter several Class I rapids and Ritchie Falls, a somewhat tricky Class II rapid about 10 to 15 minutes into the journey.

Suggested Itineraries > | River Maps >


James River Fishing

Few things compare to a relaxing day of fishing on a beautiful river. It’s an ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, if only for a day or two. On the Upper James River Water Trail, folks delight in first-rate freshwater fishing. As you cast your line, you may feel a nibble from smallmouth bass, flathead catfish, channel catfish, sunfish, and largemouth bass.

Enjoy a day’s adventure with Dead Drift Outfitters! Their experienced guides will take you on your chosen expedition, whether that’s a beginner fly fishing lesson or a trip to a prime fishing spot.  

Extend your fishing time to multiple days when you stay at Wesley Hodges, which offers lodge and glamping guests multi-day fly fishing trips on the James River.

Fishing on the James River > | Fishing License >

Know Before You Go

Twin River Outfitters - James River - Botetourt County, VA

Prioritize safety before you embark on your adventure on the Upper James River Water Trail. If you have questions, Twin River Outfitters is a great resource for helping you enjoy the river safely and responsibly.

Always check the water levels – avoid venturing out during floods or excessive low water. Life jackets are mandatory. Alcohol is strictly prohibited–it hinders your ability to navigate and respond to situations effectively. Understand the river's rapids classification system – Class I and II are suitable for beginners, while higher classifications demand experience and caution.

The Upper James River's beauty thrives on responsible recreation. Be mindful of your waste disposal. Avoid bringing single-use plastics and dispose of any trash properly in designated areas. Respect the wildlife, maintain a safe distance, and never disturb their habitat. By following these safety and sustainability practices, you can prevent accidents and leave the James River better than you found it.

Safety on the Upper James River Water Trail >

Paddling - Upper James River Water Trail - Botetourt County