Things To Do

Things To Do > Theme Tours

Theme-based tours are ways for you to organize your travels on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail to explore a particular subject or geographic area.

This initial pair of tour itineraries takes you to the heart of Captain John Smith territory in Virginia to follow a series of trails you can explore either by car or by water. First, take a virtual tour of John Smith’s Adventures on the James River or John Smith’s Adventures on the Pamaunk Flu (the Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and York rivers).

Then, get out in your boat or car and truly experience the landscapes and stories of John Smith’s Virginia adventures.


John Smith’s Adventures on the James River

John Smith's Adventures on the James
Printed maps are available for John Smith’s Adventures on the James and for John Smith’s Adventures on the Pamaunk Flu. Each set of three maps features historic descriptions and travel information, including where to hike, camp, and launch your boat. Order from Virginia State Parks.

Enjoy this segment of Captain John Smith’s Trail by water or auto along the scenic James River. As you retrace the adventures of Jamestown’s storied hero, you will discover the Virginia he knew—its natural splendor and rich Native American culture.

The water trail encompasses about 100 miles of the James River from Richmond to Newport News. The driving tour circles the river on both sides, following two scenic byways and the 23-mile Colonial Parkway. The trail is divided into three driving loops—the Oxbow Loop, Cypress Loop, and Oyster Loop—which correspond to one day’s journey in a small watercraft.

As you travel past cities, farms and forests, imagine the abundance that greeted Smith and his fellow Englishmen. Great Schools of fish teamed in the clear river, trees grew broad and tall along the shore, and overhead birds flew in flocks so thick the sky darkened as they passed.

Four hundred years later, the James River is still a treasure awaiting discovery.


John Smith’s Adventures on the Pamaunk Flu (the Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and York rivers)

This portion of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail encompasses three rivers, from Yorktown on the York River, to Zoar State Forest on the Mattaponi and Williams Landing on the Pamunkey. The driving tour circles the York portion of the river on both sides, following a portion of the Colonial Parkway, and connects with two Indian reservations on the Pamunkey Neck. The water trail is divided into three maps, one for each featured river.

As you travel past cities, farms, and forests, imagine the abundance that greeted Smith and his fellow Englishmen. Great schools of fish teamed in the clear river, trees grew broad and tall along the shore, and overhead birds flew in flocks so thick the sky darkened as they passed.

Four hundred years later, the Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and York rivers are still treasures awaiting discovery. Enjoy your journey.

Interactive Content

For Boaters

Boaters Guide

Download the official Boater's Guide.

Download Guide >

Smart Buoys

Smart Buoys

Learn about buoys marking the trail.

Find Out >

Get the App!

Chesapeake Explorer app

Download our FREE mobile app!

Learn More >

My Adventure Planner

Boat Wheel

Create your own custom itenerary.

Get Started >