Belle Isle of Richmond

What to see in Belle Isle of Richmond

There is plenty of history in Belle Isle. Once upon a time, there was a nail factory on the island as well as the Confederacy’s largest prison. The nail factory held Union soldiers during the Civil War. Today it serves as a city park. 

The Isle is accessible by a suspended pedestrian and bicycle walkway across the James River. 

Belle Isle is a small 54-acre island in the city of Richmond, Virginia. The Island lies within the James River, Richmond, and serves as a city park.

William Byrd I, acquired the island in 1676. His family stayed there for 100 years.

You have a variety of options to choose from. There are wooded areas and mountain biking trails, interpreted historical sites, a granite wall for rock climbing, and wheelchair-accessible fishing at the quarry pond.

It offers a combination of habitats open fields, dense woodlands, cliffs, a pond, and views of Hollywood Rapids.

Belle Isle of Richmond

These are part of the seven miles of rapids that make up the Fall Line. 

Good birding may happen here all year round. You can witness this during migrations. Try looking for waterfowl, bufflehead, and red-breasted merganser during winter. In summer, look for breeding osprey and songbirds.

From this beautiful Isle, visitors can see historic sites like Hollywood Cemetery, Tredegar Iron Works, and the downtown Richmond city skyline. Belle Isle has many bike trails around the island and has a small cliff used for rock-climbing instruction.

There are large, flat rocks on the island where you can sunbathe, but rapids in the water make it unsuitable for swimming. Children should be supervised.

Are you a biker, hiker, rock climber, hula hooper, or sun worshipper? This isle will be perfect for you. Belle Isle is a preserved park island right in the middle of the James downtown. 

Here is a list of some activities:

  • Birding
  • Climbing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking/Trail Running
  • Mountain Biking
  • Paddling

Belle Isle of Richmond has paid and free public parking along 5th Street and at the American Civil War Museum.

A seasonal public water fountain is located at the Wedge Building on the southeastern side of Belle Isle. The spectacular island is open at sunrise and closes at sunset.

Belle Island is surrounded by incredible scenery. The panoramic views of Richmond’s skyline, as well as the James, form part of the scenery. The Isle can be accessed through a pedestrian suspension bridge.