Why Choose ACE?
ACE Fact Sheet
ACE Adventure Resort is North America's largest outdoor adventure resort, and one of the largest in the world, according to the Travel Channel's "Extreme Resorts" program. ACE Adventure Resort comprises 1,500 acres along West Virginia's New River Gorge.
ACE offers 17 activities that include whitewater rafting, zip line canopy tours, ATV rides, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayak clinic, swimming, paintball, a mud obstacle course, 5-acre ACE Adventure Park & Lake with beach, fishing, a team challenge course and New River Gorge Bridge Catwalk Tours.
ACE runs whitewater rafting trips on the New River and on the Gauley River. ACE has pioneered the Summer Gauley experience No other company has more experience than us with rafting trips on the Gauley.
ACE hosts numerous events throughout the year, including endurance races such as the Odyssey Adventure Race, and an all-military Wilderness Challenge, and countless family reunions, school and church trips.
ACE Adventure Resort's employee base is seasonal, with as many as hundreds of employees during the summer peak.
ACE Adventure Resort's camping and lodging can host as many as 1,500 guests at a time.
History of ACE Adventure Resort
ACE began operation in 1979 out of a rented room at the old Chuckwagon Motel, where the two original owners met up with vacationers before raft trips. The company bought four rafts from Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited, the first whitewater rafting outfitter to make a trip down the Gauley River. Original ACE owner Ernie Kincaid began kayaking on the New River as a teenager in 1969, one year after the first rafting company successfully made it down the river, and would follow rafters down in his kayak.
In 1988, ACE started building a full-scale resort on its present day property. ACE has pushed to innovate in the outdoor vacation industry ever since. At that time, the company was known as ACE Adventure Center. ACE aggressively expanded activity offerings and trip variations, including being among the first rafting companies to offer self-bailing boats in the 1990s. ACE also constructed West Virginia's first zip line canopy tour, opened to the public in 2008. In addition, ACE owns and operates an outdoor gear retail outlet, the ACE Adventure Gear Shoppe in the New River Gorge.
History of Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia
Whitewater rafting in West Virginia started with a few paddlers on the New River in canoes. Paul Davidson and Bob Burrell started to canoe mountain rivers in 1965, and were soon introduced to closed boats and the Cheat, Yough, New and Gauley Rivers by eastern paddlers such as John Sweet (for whom the Gauley rapid Sweet's Falls is named).
The early pioneers of the now professionalized rafting industry in West Virginia were college-age kids looking for fun and thrills, and were the first to put a raft on the river.
The family most associated with early whitewater rafting in West Virginia and the eastern United States were the Dragans, led by entrepreneur Jon Dragan, along with brothers Tom and Chris, and Jon's then-girlfriend and later wife Melanie (who still works for ACE Adventure Resort). They left the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania for the New, which at the industry's peak would have about 20 companies working the river. Chris Dragan was 15 when they started taking friends down the river in 1968; the oldest among them was 24 at the time.
The family launched Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited, hiring guides and housing them at Thurmond. Each guide was asked to write a research paper on history local to the New River Gorge, meant to provide them stories to entertain guests on trips down the river.
The Dragans' company in 1968 was only the third of its kind in the United States. They started with a few pickup trucks and four Army surplus rafts that they used to maneuver friends down the river. At the time, the banks wouldn't give them the $4,000 needed for the equipment, so they borrowed the money from family.
In those early days, guides often had to pull over to scout the best possible route down the river. There were no landmarks charted or named rapids, and so the Dragans named the rapids according to their character, after geographical location or some memorable event. The next two decades would see an industry boom, and in 1994 upwards of 200,000 people paddled whitewater in West Virginia, pumping millions of dollars into local economies.
By 1991, a Whitewater Advisory Board composed of whitewater rafting company officials, private paddlers, private citizens and consumers, fishery officials and the National Park Service was created to deal with whitewater issues including setting the number of commercial passengers that could be allowed on West Virginia rivers to prevent overcrowding.
In 2009, ACE Adventure Resort purchased Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited and in 2010 ACE bought another legendary company that was founded in 1975 - North American River Runners. The three outfitters now operate as one family.
ACE News Archive
May 28, 2013
Whitewater Trips Designed for Families
May 5, 2013
Bachelor parties battle in paintball game
March 4, 2013
First whitewater trip of 2013 launches Monday
January 7, 2013
Tennis Anyone? New River Gorge Bridge celebrated
July 27, 2012
Top 10 West Virginia Getaways
June 28, 2012
Fayette resort to add snow-tubing, disc golf
June 27, 2012
10 excellent outdoor adventures for families
June 25, 2012
Better than a tent June 25, 2012
March 27, 2012
Guide Cabins Bolster Rafting Experience March 27, 2012
March 5, 2012
W.Va. whitewater outfitter to add snow-tubing park
December 14, 2011
New River resort expands to accommodate Boy Scout project
River Wild: "West Virginia's New River Gorge is chock-full of adventure..." Download River Wild PDF
July 19, 2010:
Zip Line Canopy Tour Sees 10,000th Guest At ACE Adventure Resort http://www.prweb.com/releases/zip_line_canopy_tour/new_river_gorge/prweb4277824.htm
April 26, 2010:
ACE Raft Guide Numbers and Training Increase http://www.prweb.com/releases/west-virginia/whitewater-rafting/prweb3821124.htm
April 19, 2010:
ACE To See 10,000th Zip Line Canopy Tour Visitor This Summer http://www.prweb.com/releases/westvirginia/ziplinecanopytour/prweb3820164.htm
April 5, 2010:
ACE Adventure Resort To Hold 2nd Annual July 4 Blob Big Air Contest http://www.prweb.com/releases/FourthOfJuly/vacationcontest/prweb3813804.htm
March 31, 2010:
ACE Adventure Resort Vacation Bookings See Massive Surge Following Heavy Winter http://www.prweb.com/releases/westvirginia/vacationresort/prweb3813454.htm
January 18, 2010:
2009 Numbers Keep ACE Adventure Resort On Top Of Industry http://www.prweb.com/releases/ACE_Adventure_Resort/white_water_rafting/prweb3459384.htm
October 6, 2009:
U.S. Soldiers To Test Determination In West Virginia Adventure Race http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/10/prweb2997624.htm
April 1, 2009:
Outfitter To Give Away 30 Years Of Free Rafting http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/04/prweb2286584.htm
March 12, 2009:
Rafting Outfitter Blogs To Bring Fans Outdoors http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/03/prweb2226104.htm
August 19, 2008:
Winners Take All As Surfin' Sunday Returns http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/08/prweb1224584.htm
July 22, 2008:
ATV Tours Join ACE Adventure Resort Line-Up http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/07/prweb1131544.htm
April 4, 2008:
West Virginia Adventure Resort Announces 2008 Calendar Of Races http://www.prweb.com/releases/West_Virginia/Adventure_Resort/prweb834264.htm
ACE On The Web
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The Washington Post (Sept. 24, 2010) — Escapes: Ace Adventure Resort in W.Va. offers camping, rafting and more