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About the Park

A RICHMOND DESTINATION

The James River Park System is a 600-acre urban oasis that features rocks, rapids, meadows, forests, and an abundance of plant and animal life. It is a pristine bit of wilderness in the heart of Richmond.

kayakers in the James River

2 Million +

2 Million +

Visitors Per Year

scenic view of the James River Park

600

600

Acres of Park

cyclists at the James River Park

40 +

40 +

Miles of Trails

1607

When Europeans arrived in 1607 the Virginia Native American village of Powhatan was located in what is now Richmond's East End. The Powhatans referred to the Falls of the James as "Paqwachowng."

1676

William Byrd I, father of Richmond’s founder, buys Belle Isle. The Byrd family owns it for over a century.

1814
Industry comes to Belle Isle, with the opening of a small nail factory.
1865
As the Civil War draws to a close, President Abraham Lincoln enters Richmond from the James River, just below Mayo Island.
1939
Old Dominion Iron & Steel begins making tank parts on Belle Isle for the United States Army.
1960
Friends Jack Keith and Joe Schaefer begin acquiring land along the James River for public recreation purposes.
1972
Keith and Schaefer donate 380 acres to the City of Richmond for the establishment of a public park.
1980
Ralph White is hired by the James River Park System. He would become Park Superintendent, and would oversee a fantastic transformation over a 32-year career.
2009

The City of Richmond joins with a group of advocates and stakeholders to place the Park in a conservation easement, preserving and protecting hundreds of acres from future development.

2018
Friends of the James River Park System join with a group of local and regional stakeholders to create a “Park Master Plan” that will help to guide the maintenance, health, and improvement of the Park into the future.
2020

The 10-Year Park Master Plan is adopted by Richmond City Council as part of the broader Richmond 300 Master Plan.

PARK MASTER PLAN

The James River Park System sees as many as 2 million annual visitors, making it the most visited attraction in Richmond. Maintaining the quality of the Park experience while protecting the health of the natural environment has become a top priority.

Working in partnership with affiliated advocacy groups, we helped to develop a 10-year Master Plan which will guide Park enhancements and growth, protecting the Park for future generations.

Development of the Master Plan began in 2018, and it was adopted by Richmond City Council in 2020 as part of the Richmond 300 Master Plan.
Among the strategic goals addressed in the Park Master Plan are prioritizing the highest and best use of the Park for the City and region, balancing nature and adventure in its use, improvements of Park infrastructure, and enhancements to improve access for users of all abilities.

The 10-year Park Master Plan is not set in stone, and will remain flexible to address future needs and guidelines. The Master Plan is a proposal to preserve the Park for future generations of Park users.

Report an Issue Form

To report an emergency please call 911 immediately. Please use this form to report an issue in the Park such as maintenance or trail issues. Thank you.

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