Rivanna River - Facilities
The Rivanna River first becomes navigable for canoes and kayaks as its two main tributaries, the South and North forks, approach Charlottesville.
A short distance downstream from their confluence, the Rivanna can be accessed in the City of Charlottesville at Darden Towe Park, operated by Albemarle County. This park contains a canoe launch and a variety of other facilities, such as playgrounds and a picnic shelter.
It's a relatively short float of a couple of miles down to the next public access at Milton, just south of the I-64 Bridge crossing. Specifically, it's located where State Route (SR) 22 crosses the River just west of its intersection with SR 250. This is simply an old roadbed that was retained by the County to provide access to the River. Parking is limited, and canoes and kayaks must be carried or dragged approximately 50 yards to reach the River.
The next access point downstream is at Crofton Bridge, and this is owned and operated by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF). The stretch of the Rivanna between Milton and Crofton Bridge measures approximately 11 river miles. With strong river flows, this can be covered in five hours or so. But, this is a lot of water to cover in one day if fishing is planned. Be sure to start early and space your fishing out so that you'll have time to hit a lot of the best looking spots.
The next access point at Palmyra is also owned by the DGIF. The Crofton Bridge to Palmyra float covers approximately seven river miles and makes for a nice day's trip, including fishing. Because this is the easiest section to float in a day, it gets the most fishing pressure. From Palmyra downstream to its confluence with the James River, the Rivanna travels around 16 miles.
The closest public access at the end of that float is just across the James at Columbia. Given the length of this float, you'll have to limit your fishing to prime water. Although these are the only formal access points for the Rivanna, there are many road crossings that can facilitate access for a limited number of vehicles. Anglers using the road crossings as access point must be very careful that they are well off the road shoulder as not to impede traffic and must be sure they are not trespassing across private property to access the river.