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James River WMA

Situated along the north side of its namesake, the James River Wildlife Management Area occupies land that was part of one of the many large estates that once flourished along the banks of Virginia’s most famous river. Today, you are invited to hunt, fish, canoe and otherwise enjoy this gentle, historic land.

The area’s 1,213 acres vary from hilly in the upper woodland to level bottomland along the James River. Elevation ranges from 350 to 500 feet. The area fronts on the James River for a length of slightly over one mile. Approximately 200 acres of the area are open, a lingering result of past use for pasture and cropland. Other older fields have reverted to stands of Virginia pine. The remaining lands are hardwood pine mix with the hardwood portion being dominated by a mixture of upland oaks and some hickory. Techniques used to enhance upland habitat includes the development of annual and perennial plantings, hedgerows, prescribed burning and strip-disking. Three marsh impoundments covering approximately eight acres have been developed. Here the water level can be drawn down during the growing season to encourage native plants that, when flooded, will provide food for waterfowl.


Sunday Hunting Opportunities on Public Lands in Virginia »

Hunting opportunities exist for an array of upland species, including deer, turkey, quail, raccoon, squirrel and rabbit. Management on the area is directed towards enhancing habitat for these and a variety of other resident wildlife species. Dove hunting is frequently good around the open fields near the river. There is waterfowl hunting opportunity on the managed impoundment and along the bank of the James or from a boat.


The area fronts one of the better stretches of the James River for fishing. Anglers land smallmouth bass, various sunfishes and channel catfish. This section of the river is popular for float fishing. A one acre pond provides a variety of sunfish for those — perhaps with young anglers — not interested in fishing the river.

Other Activities

The area attracts both game and non-game species, enhancing the opportunity to view a wide array of wildlife. Because of its close proximity to the James River, the area is attractive to birds common in riparian habitats. The ramp access makes the area an excellent “put in” or “take out” point for James River canoeists. For fishermen, Lake Nelson and a number of trout stocked streams are nearby, west of the management area in Nelson County.


The area has about a mile of access road and seven parking lots. A boat launching ramp provides year-round access to the James River.


The area is located approximately 15 miles south-east of Lovingston in the southeastern portion of Nelson County, near the community of Wingina. Access is from State Route 56, between Lovingston and Buckingham Court House, on Route 626 travel easterly following road signs.

Images by: Meghan Marchetti/DWR

Recreational Opportunities

  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Primitive Camping (Requirements for Camping on WMAs)
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding (Horseback riding is not allowed during hunting seasons, except on Sundays from September 1–January 15 and from April 1–May 15)
  • Birding
  • Boat Ramp(s)