High Water Levels Force James River Companies to Cancel Trips
All river rafting operations stop once water reaches six feet for safety reasons.
The rushing water of the James River is making this summer a washout for central Virginia businesses that rely on river excursions.
River running companies in Scottsville are taking a hard hit - especially over a long holiday weekend - as high water levels cause them to cancel trips down the James River.
The businesses say it's one of the wettest and worst seasons they've seen in more than two decades.
Many people in central Virginia were looking forward to a trip down the James this weekend, but a rain-filled spring has made river conditions unsafe - and businesses are feeling the impact.
"This is definitely our largest weekend. It's kind of been a washout," said James River Runners owner Chris Wilkes.
James River Runners at Hatton Ferry is trying to stay above water, as weeks of heavy rain forced the company to cancel all trips down the river during its busiest weekend of the year.
"It drove things up about nine or 10 feet in a matter of six to nine hours," Wilkes said.
The rainfall pushed the water level at the James River up to 14 feet on July 4. Since then, it's dropped to about eight feet.
"We cut off all operations at six feet," Wilkes said. "Once you hit six feet, two main reasons we cut off. One is a safety issue. At six feet, you can't really touch bottom and there's enough current that you're not going to be able to get equipment over to shore. Second being quality of trip issue. If we put you on your back for 20 to 30 minutes, it's not really getting your money's worth out of the trip."
Wilkes says they cancelled about 1,700 reservations to canoe, kayak, raft and tube down the James River between Thursday and Sunday.
"This has definitely been the wettest spring in probably about 25 years, so it's not been a good time to be on the water so far this year," he said.
James River Reeling & Rafting down the road agrees the rain has been a big damper on this year's season so far, but both companies are optimistic the current situation will reverse course soon.
"It's kind of hurt things a little bit, but hopefully we might have broken the weather pattern we're having and things will get back up and running," Wilkes said.
Both James River businesses say they should be back up and running by midweek once the water drops down to a safe running level.
You can check both of their websites for the latest river conditions: