About Scenic Rural Landscapes and Crystal Clear Water
The Cowpasture River is a chief tributary of the James River in western Virginia in the United States. It is 84.4 miles (135.8 km) long.
The Cowpasture River flows through some of western Virginia's most scenic, rural landscape. The Cowpasture rises in northeastern Highland County and flows generally southwestwardly, initially between Bullpasture Mountain and Shaws Ridge through a narrow valley floor near the George Washington National Forest. It is joined in eastern Highland County by Shaws Fork and gains breadth but has little depth. At Summers Mountain (a high point along Bullpasture Mountain) the river passes through a narrow gorge before entering a broad valley in Bath County, where at the community of Williamsville it collects the Bullpasture River, which greatly adds to its volume. For 20 miles (32 km) from this confluence the Cowpasture is joined by many small streams, and flows in increasingly wide bends in eastern Bath County. Downstream of the community of Millboro Springs the river becomes deep enough for year-round boating; there are several boat launch sites along the river in Bath County. In eastern Alleghany County the Cowpasture is joined by Simpson Creek and shortly enters Botetourt County, where it joins the Jackson River to form the James River near the town of Iron Gate.
The river is bordered by pastureland and meadows, a perfect habitat for indigo buntings, northern bobwhite and other open-country birds, as well as local livestock. The nearby George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and state natural lands offer opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to experience this rustic, rural watershed.