Secrets Of The Gauley River: Gauley River 101

The mountains of West Virginia are just about to show off their crown jewel: the Gauley River.


Every year, tens of thousands of people from all over the world come here to go whitewater rafting on the Gauley. It has a reputation as one of the best whitewater rivers in the world, and with good reason.

Here’s a post that will give you a rundown on all the basics, and a few tips on what’s going on here at ACE Adventure Resort:

Gauley Season — What?

What’s Gauley Season, you ask? Well, it’s this really cool thing where there’s a bunch of whitewater in this river that’s awesome and we all go rafting on it. You come too, okay?

More than that, Gauley Season is a celebration of everything that’s right with the world. At least as far as we can tell.

The reason it’s a season (hey, that rhymes!) is because, for most of the year, the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers holds water back behind the Summersville Dam for flood control and power generation.

Gauley Season — When?

Beginning the weekend after Labor Day each year, that water is released into the Gauley below the dam over a series of five Friday-through-Monday sessions, and one Saturday-and-Sunday session at the end.


Those releases, guaranteed every year, are what makes Gauley Season.

Gauley Season — Where?

The Gauley River is in southern West Virginia. It’s a sister river to the New River, which is pretty famous for rafting in its own right. Actually, just downstream of where we get out of both rivers is their confluence, where they come together to form the Kanawah River.

The Ace Adventure Resort (hey, that’s us!) is not far from the Summersville Dam, which is where the whitewater rafting section of the Gauley starts.


Gauley Season — Who?

Okay, this doesn’t really answer the question of “Who?” (that’s you, right?), but we’ve got a theme going here.

During the season, there are two sections to go rafting on, the Upper Gauley and the Lower Gauley. The Upper is harder than the Lower, with five Class V rapids (the Big 5) and about 50 in-between-o rapids from Class Nothing to Class IV (sorry, there’s no roman numeral for nothing). The 50 or so rapids on the Lower Gauley are just as big as the ones on the Upper (except the Big 5), but aren’t quite as technically demanding.

The in-between-o rapids are amazing. The Gauley has so much whitewater that rapids that would be the biggest thing on another rafting trip don’t even have names.

Gauley Season — Why?

Do we really even need to answer this one? Because it’s there.

That’s why.

Got a question about Gauley Season? Post it in the comments below. Or share a Gauley story with us. Or just say hi.

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