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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mnewhall says:

Jamestown Island Drive (The Long Tour – Free – drive your car, bicycle, walk) off Colonial Parkway Jamestown near Jamestown Ferry Point – spotted 2 eagle nests April 23, 2016. Everyday mid-day (10:00am – 2:00pm) you can spot 4-5 eagles along the drive.

Wes says:

I’ve never visited any of these parts but I did see a bald eagle on Jolliff rd in Chesapeake in the Western Branch area I thought it was very unusual if anybody else has seen it in chesapeake please let me know thank you and God bless

My friend has 2 bald eagles currently living in a nest on his property in Virginia Beach.

Tammy Stillwater says:

I saw my first bald eagle in Laurel Fork, VA on Sunday, January 17, 2016. Hard to believe! It was sitting on the side of the road eating roadkill and then flew up and away. At first I thought it was a vulture, but when it lifted it’s head and it’s head was white, I knew.

mike says:

I live in Stuart VA and want to know where can I talk my little girl so she can see an eagle.I’m a few miles from the parkway.

Lynn says:

Played The Tuckahoe Creek golf course at The Country Club of Virginia, which is an Audobon designated course today and saw a bald eagle! At first we thought he was injured the way he was hopping then we got a bit closer to see if he was ok and he started to fly. Another bird was trying to attack him in the air! So cool to see an eagle on a very beautiful day!

daniel rivardo says:

April 11, 2015. While horseback riding in the iron mountains in the brushcreek area above fries Virginia with a group of friends, we saw a male bald eagle about 100 ft above us. I have been riding horses in this part of the Jefferson national forest for about 15 years and this is my first siting of a bald eagle in the area, wow. Have seen many, years ago in Alaska, but this was awesome seeing him up there in the clear blue sky.

Cliff says:

The new Potomac Shores development has a nesting pair of Bald Eagles that I discovered a couple of days ago. There is a magnificent view of the Potomac River near the golf course and off to the left is an island of trees with the nest and a spectacular view of the eagles.

Stickman says:

I played the course on Dec 26, my 41st birthday, and saw a pair of bald eagles up close, head them screech and watched in amazement as they flew about 20′ above me. What a glorious sight, and a fantastic birthday present!

mary says:

Check out the Brush Mill Stream Nature Preserve outside Heathsville,VA in the northern Neck. Currently,looking at a juvenile bald eagle and two adult bald eagles getting fish from the stream where it meets the Wicomico river

Great article but the Mason Neck National Wildlife is the “Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge” named for my late mother. When I give boat tours I average 18 Eagles per trip. Rob

Case says:

How about Flat Iron Road between Montross and Tappahannock? I saw them there almost every time I drove down it. Check it out!