After taking in a lot of historic attractions in Charlottesville, we were itching to get outside and get moving. As hot as it was in Virginia in August, we were ready to get wet and cool off with a little kayaking on the James River in Scottsville, Virginia. There are plenty of outdoor adventures offered by James River Reeling and Rafting, including James River tubing and, our choice, kayaking. Earlier in the spring we may have experienced a bit of white water, but in late summer, the river was low and lazy, making for a very relaxing paddle.

The team at Visit Charlottesville hooked us up with James River Reeling and Rafting to get us going. They offer all the equipment you need to get out on the river. From kayaks, river tubes, canoes, rafts or even fishing gear. In the store you can also purchase drinks, snacks and even water shoes (luckily we brought our own.) There is plenty of room to change in their locker rooms, and they also offer hot water showers for cleaning up after your time on the river.

Kayaking in Charlottesville VA with James River Reeling and Rafting

The James River near Scottsville

Once you are ready, they drive you up river, the distance varying based on how long you want to stay out. After getting you started, you are then on your own to explore the river. If all you do is float, it might take you two-to-four hours to cover the four miles back to James River camp site. We kept up a fairly steady paddle, although not with too much force, and made it back in under two hours.Kayaking on the James River

Along the way, we passed a few groups of people doing some tubing along the James River, some trailing coolers on smaller tubes (although intake of alcoholic beverages is strictly prohibited.) There were a couple of spots where you can get out and swim. Hannah gave it a try but wasn’t too thrilled with the rocks and river grasses along the bottom. We spotted a few fish along the way, but nothing too large.

Due to the heat, it was easy to work up a sweat, but the water splashing into the kayaks kept us cool enough. This was the first time that we have kayaked together when Hannah was old even to manage her own kayak. The river was nice and calm so neither of us was nervous and it was easy to manage. It was so fun to float along, side by side in single kayaks versus me doing most of the work in a tandem. James River tubing and kayaking

The team at James River Reeling and Rafting keeps an eye out and when you arrive back at the meeting spot where you have left your car, they pull the boats out of the water and stow your equipment. You can then leave directly or head back to the headquarters for a quick shower (you’ll probably want one!)James River Reeling and Rafting sign

If you are hungry after (or before) your paddle, be sure to stop in town at the Tavern on the James for a tasty and satisfying meal. The burgers were fantastic, but a real treat is the ultimate hot dog, with a Dave Matthews’ dog covered with homemade chili and melted cheddar cheese.

Ultimate hot dog at the Tavern on the James in Scottsville VA

 Tips for James River Tubing and Kayaking

  • Wear quick dry clothing like board shorts or a bathing suit
  • Don’t wear flip flops — water shoes or tennis shoes are required
  • Bring along a waterproof camera, like a GoPro, but be sure it is attached to a floaty or wrist strap
  • Apply sun screen and bug spray before leaving
  • Hats are useful for keeping the sun off your face and sunglasses for reducing the glare
  • Bring a towel, soap and extra set of clothes for changing when you are done
  • Make sure to bring along plenty of extra water (and maybe a couple of snacks) in a dry bag

James River Reeling and Rafting is located at 265 Ferry Street in Scottsville, Virginia. The four-mile kayak tour is $30 per person. Departure times are from 11 am to 2 pm on the hour. Children must be 10 years old to kayak and six years old to tube or raft.


Kayaking in Charlottesville VA with James River Reeling and Rafting

Note: Our visit was hosted by James River Reeling and Rafting and Visit Charlottesville. All opinions are my own.

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