3 Things to Know About Gauley White Water Rafting

Gauley white water rafting in West Virginia rules. Period. End of story.

But sometimes folks have trouble getting their heads around actually going. That might be because of the huge white water or the sheer number of rapids that challenge rafters on the Upper Gauley River and the Lower Gauley River. Or maybe because of this thing called “Gauley Season.”

Hitting the 5-0 Wave at Lost Paddle's Second Drop

You might be thinking to yourself, “What?! This specific river has its own” specific season?”

Yeah, kind of.

These 3 questions about Gauley River rafting, and the answers, will help you get a better understanding of how Gauley white water works and what you can expect when you visit to enjoy sweet West Virginia white water rafting.

1. What is Gauley Season?

Gauley Season is 22 days each fall set aside for the sole purpose of releasing water into the river for rafting. It always begins the weekend after Labor Day, and continues until late October.

The release days are stretched out from Friday through Monday over 5 weekends, with a 2-day weekend at the end. Any time you come rafting on one of these days, you’re rafting during Gauley Season.

Gauley Season is a pretty special time. People come in from all over the world to raft the river. People come in from all over the world to guide the river. Basically, Gauley Season is like a big birthday party where everyone gets the gift of world-class white water.

2. Is there Gauley White Water Rafting Outside of Gauley Season?

Yup. Sure can. With ACE, anyway. (We happen to be the only outfitter that runs the Gauley River outside of Gauley Season day in and day out, which we think is pretty cool).

Here’s the thing: the Gauley River turns on and off like a faucet, more or less. Summersville Dam controls the flow.

So when there’s a lot of water in Summersville Lake, the dam guys will put a lot of water in the river. And when there’s not so much water, the dam guys will put a little water in the river.

Important to remember, though, is that there is always some dam water in the river. Which means (you guessed it) we can go rafting.

3. How Do Different Water Flows Affect the Ride?

The amount of water in the river totally influences your Gauley River rafting trip. And because that amount of water is only guaranteed during fall Gauley Season, our Summer Gauley white water trips change daily.

It’s a good thing.

The water level tells us what section of river to go to, what boats to take, and who can go on the river. It’s a bit difficult to lay out in a blog post, so just use these rules of thumb:

During Gauley Season (fall), we can plan your trip down to the section of river and size of raft, because we know how much water will be in the river.

Outside of Gauley Season, we can book your trip and take you to the Gauley, but we won’t know what section of river we’ll be going to or what kind of boat you’ll be in until pretty much the day of the trip (we give you all that info when you check in).

So if you book a Gauley trip in the spring, you might go to the Lower Gauley in big rafts at super-high water. If you book for the summer, you might go to the Upper Gauley in duckies at super-low water.

It all depends on the water level. And you, of course.

Got a good Gauley story? Tell us in the comments.

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