Gauley River Rafting: Everything You Need to Know.
Rafting the Gauley = Heavy Duty Fun.
It doesn't get any simpler. From peak releases during Gauley Season to challenging summer flows, the Gauley always delivers.
Big. Steep. Technical. Intense. Big. Why did we list big twice? The Upper Gauley is home to six rapids known as, well, the Big 6. Each one will quicken your pulse and make you whoop and holler. In between, don't sleep; there's plenty of whitewater to keep you on your toes.
For first-time rafters, the Lower Gauley is about as challenging as it gets. Long wave trains and big hits will put a grin on your face that just may be there permanently. Be prepared to dig in, but don't forget to take in the amazing views from the river.
Like solitude with your white water? The Summer Gauley has it in spades along with narrow chutes, steep drops and huge rocks. Take comfort, though. When you raft this legendary stretch of river, you raft with an experienced staff who've made the Summer Gauley their calling.
Hard playing and serious relaxing are what Gauley River overnights are all about. There's plenty of rapids and plenty of food to go around. Get your Gauley on in the summer or fall and camp out at the coolest private overnight spots on the Gauley. You'll kick it around the fire, talking about the day's runs and what lies ahead.
Additional Gauley Information
Rafting is only the tip of the the Gauley River's rich history. This water way has drawn men and women to its banks for more than 200 years, boasting enough diverse attractions to be designated a National Recreation Area by the United States government.
For history lovers, the Gauley story mirrors the story of the United States. The tale begins with the first West Virginia settlers in the 1770s. These pioneering European settlers braved the challenging terrain - and often-challenging relations with Native American residents who came before them.
Chapters followed on the Civil War and the timber, mine and railroad industries that continued well into the 20th century. The great civil works projects of the 1960s saw completion of the Summersville Dam near the Gauley's headwaters just before commercial rafting began on the New River. Though the Gauley River had been successfully run before the dam was built, it was the regulated flows that made commercial whitewater rafting possible.
Gauley River Today
The Gauley River's reputation these days is built on recreation. Between the Gauley River National Recreation Area, Summersville Lake and white water rafting, there is plenty to do.
The Gauley winds through three sections: the Upper, Middle and Lower, featuring different difficulty levels and amazing scenery. Many rafting outfitters offer trips from Spring to Fall, depending on local precipitation and water released by the Army Corps of Engineers from the Summersville Dam.
Gauley Season, a 22-day schedule of releases for white water enthusiasts in September and October, is the capstone to the rafting season in West Virginia. Each season, more than 60,000 paddlers take on world-famous rapids such as "Insignificant," "Pillow Rock" and "Sweet's Falls."
Alongside the Gauley River, hikers, anglers and hunters enjoy the lush forest and abundant wildlife of the Monongahela National Forest. The area is home to many rare and threatened plants, such as Virginia spiraea. Along with rafting in the fall, you can also explore the brilliant foliage soaring along the New River Gorge through the crisp autumn air on a zip line or cruising down into the Gauley canyon on a guided mountain bike tour.
Wildlife watchers can find deer and even bear along the 26-mile corridor that stretches from the Summersville Dam to the where the Gauley and New rivers join to form the Kanawha River. Other animals that make their home in the area include 10 threatened species of mammals, birds, insects, fish and amphibians.