Eight Bald Eagle Hot Spots in Virginia

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Jun 6, 2013 | Updated: Jul 2, 2015

Comments: 19 Comments

This post was updated July 2, 2015.

Virginia is an amazing place for nature lovers. For some, rare birds and shy wildlife are literally right outside their back door. For others, a quick five minute drive to a park offers the reward of the cardinal’s song or playful squirrels scampering about. Ultimately, you have to decide how serious you are about wildlife watching and either enjoy what’s naturally abundant and evident in Virginia or make it a mission to seek out the treasures that are well hidden.


Discover the James. Credit: Marlene Frazier

Discover the James. Credit: Marlene Frazier

Let’s seek out the treasure –  America’s treasure.

The bald eagle is the symbol of our nation and unique to North America. In recent years the bald eagle has surged off of the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species and has grown boldly in population to an estimated 9,789 breeding pairs. That being said, one does not often see a bald eagle. This American treasure hides well, but there are a few river hot spots that are known for bald eagle action.


1. Caledon State Park in King George on the Potomac River is known for its old growth forest. It’s also the summer home to the one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles on the East Coast. To protect the giant predator, access to the river and marshes is very limited. Rather, join along for eagle sightseeing excursions.

Select Dates: Kayak with the Eagles. $19 solo or $25 tandem. Reservations required. Call 540-663-3861.
Select Dates: Eagle Tours. $3/person or $8/family. Reservations required. Call 540-663-3861.


Caledon State Park

Caledon State Park


2. Also along the Potomac River is the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Lorton. The sole purpose of the refuge is to protect bald eagle nesting, feeding and roosting habitats along the river. A rookery of great blue herons offers additional interest with more than 1200 nests.

Day use only with four miles of established nature trails. Download the Bird Checklist.


3. An additional state park located on the Potomac River and a great eagle spotting site is Westmoreland in Montross. In addition to the eagles, Westmoreland is known for ancient shark teeth that can be found along the river.


4. Mason Neck State Park in Lorton (not to be confused with the refuge), also lies against the Potomac River.


5. Hop aboard a Rappahannock River Cruise departing from Tappahannock to cruise along 100′ cliffs that protect eagle nests. The cruise includes a stop to tour, taste and enjoy lunch at Ingleside Winery. Book Now


6. Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach encompasses more than 9,000 acres. More than 300 bird species call Back Bay home, with 10,000 snow geese and other waterfowl visiting at peak migration (December-January). Expect to find osprey and bald eagles here. Sign up for the tram to enjoy an interpretive tour of the refuge and False Cape State Park.

Day use only. $2-$5 fee required April 1 through October 31 for hikers, bikers or vehicles. No pets. Download the brochure.



7. The very exclusive Presquile National Wildlife Refuge is actually a 1,329-acre island in the James River south of Richmond. Like others mentioned here, it’s primary purpose is to act as a refuge for migrating fowl. Due to the nature of the refuge, visitors may not simply “stop by,” but must make a request for permit in advance or attend an event. Three miles of trails and boardwalks are available, as are canoe/kayak launch sites for the water trails.

Available by advance permit or during refuge-sponsored events. Call 804-829-9020.


8. Discover the James is a tour company focused on revealing the old James River environments that are still visible today … if you look and listen hard enough. Sign up for one of Capt. Ostrander’s five-mile bald eagle tours to experience the bald eagle habitats of the James River like you didn’t know you could.

Two-hour tour available select dates or request a private tour. Rates from $45. Reservations required. Call 804-938-2350.


Share your bald eagle hot spots with a comment below!


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19 Comments on "Eight Bald Eagle Hot Spots in Virginia"

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Lake Chesdin in Dinwiddie County has quite a number of bald eagles (4 adults and a few juveniles) which are not shy and are seen on a daily basis frolicking and hunting just off of the Oxford Dr Peninsula. As I enjoy my sunrise breakfast each morning, so do they. When cruising up or down the lake on waverunner, has not been a day without seeing one.

Combs Debbie

Saw a bald eagle in Roanoke, Va today! Exciting

Jody como

Yesterday at 11:33am I spotted an American Bald Eagle outside of Louisa county, Va. Is that a normal range for them. Jody Como

Tammy B

Sighting, on 15 flying near briary creek awsome . could not believe my eyes. Filled me with pride.

Mary Stewart

I have spotted a pair of Bald Eagles fishing and flying over Lake Manassas in Gainesville VA. The first sighting was in March and the second sighting was in June of this year.