Visit the Park » Park Rules & Safety Tips

Park Rules

Enjoy your visit to the park and please help to keep it clean and beautiful!

  1. The Park is open every day from dawn to dusk.
  2. Lifejackets must be worn on the river when the water level is at or above 5 feet at Westham Gauge. Check river levels online or call (804) 646-8228, x 4 for water level information.
  3. Boaters must have lifejackets.
  4. When the river level is at 9 feet and above at Westham Gauge, only high water permit holders can be on the river.
  5. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
  6. Fires, grills and camping are not permitted.
  7. Dogs must be on leashes.
  8. No glass allowed. Put all empty cans in recycling bins.
  9. Put all litter, diapers, and other waste in the trash bins.
  10. Park in designated areas only. Parking in no parking zones could get your car towed.
  11. Pick up litter when you see it in the water or on the trails and encourage others to do so.

Safety Tips

  1. Wear lifejackets on the river and don’t swim or boat alone.
  2. The river bottom is uneven, so it’s still possible to get in over your head even when the river level is low.
  3. If you are swept up by a rapid, float feet first to protect your head until you can swim free.
  4. Stay away from dams. Portage your boat to avoid their dangerous hydraulics.
  5. Wear closed-toe shoes in the water.
  6. Poison ivy proliferates along the paths in the Park. Leaves of three – let them be.
  7. Do not leave valuables in your car.
  8. Emergency kiosks to contact police are available in the Pony Pasture parking lot and on Belle Isle.
  9. Call 911 to report an emergency. If on a trail, look for closest trail marker and give the dispatcher trail marker information.

Trail Rules

JRPS is a Leave No Trace Park. Find out what this means to you and the Park.

  1. Use open trails only: Please obey trail closures. Do not trespass on private land. Obey the 24/1 rain rule – Trail is closed for 24 hours per 1” of rain.
  2. Leave no trace of your passing: Do not use trails in muddy conditions. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in: Carry out all trash.
  3. Stay on trail: Do not cut switchbacks. Do not enter reclaimed trails. Portions of the trails are designed to be technically challenging. DO NOT modify the trail or create alternate routes to bypass challenging features.
  4. Yield Appropriately: In general, bikes yield to pedestrians, on trails designated as “bike only,” pedestrians yield to bikes. Riders descending yield to riders climbing. Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming – a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Pay attention; inattention for even a moment could put you and others at risk.
  5. Don’t ride bikes on hiking trails: Hiking-only trails are specifically marked.
  6. Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you.
  7. Plan Ahead: Know your ability, your equipment and the area in which you are riding, climbing, hiking or paddling and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient. Keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions.
  8. Control your pets: Keep pets on leash. Properly dispose of all pet waste.
  9. No motorized vehicles.
  10. Be safe/Be Sensible: Bikers should wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear. Adjust your travel to trail conditions. Know your equipment, your ability, and route.
  11. No Tampering: Tampering with trails is strictly prohibited. It has caused damage to our resources, endangered users and created conflicts with Park neighbors. Offenders will be prosecuted! How you use trails today affects the policies of tomorrow.

Keep the Park Safe

If you see something out of the ordinary in the James River Park, please report it using the non-emergency police number: 804/646-5100

Reportable things include problems in the park (of natural or human origin) — graffiti, large amounts of trash, trees down across main trails, fires of any sort, unruly behavior, etc.

If it is an emergency situation, please dial 911 and give the dispatcher the closest trail marker information to you.

While you’re in the Park look for the red and brown location tags. These tags provide GPS information to emergency services and are the fastest way for responders to find your location should you call for assistance.

They also help police find the source of a non-emergency concern should you see and want to report something out of the ordinary in the James River Park.

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