Secrets Of The Gauley River: Iron Ring Rapid

At some point on your Gauley River whitewater rafting trip, you’re going to paddle into a rapid that defies description.


It just doesn’t fit the Gauley River Class V profile. No big pool. No tricky entrance. No driving for the biggest feature.

It just means you’re in Iron Ring. Hang on.

The Setup

The reason Iron Ring doesn’t look like anything else is because it’s not natural. Seriously. The rapid was created when loggers used a bunch of dynamite (probably way too much, in the West Virginia tradition) to blow up logjams out of the river channel.

What they left was a bunch of sharp rock pointed upstream. Short, steep, and pretty darn touchy if you do it wrong, Iron Ring is a rapid you have to style your way through.

The Line

Iron Ring is almost more about what you have to go around than where you have to go. There’s only one thing to avoid, pretty much. That thing is Woodstock.

Woodstock is a hole. Some people say it’s named after Snoopy’s little bird buddy, because you can see some nubs of the rock that forms it when the water is low.

But the real reason it’s named Woodstock is because it’s like the music festival: there’s room in there for about 200,000 people. It’s a thing really. A thing that eats rafts. Crazy.

The thing about Iron Ring is that it’s all in the setup. There are two waves at the top. Hit them on the right side, and you’re pretty much golden.

Too far left, and you’re in Woodstock. Too far right, and you’ll bounce of the bank and go, you guessed it, into Woodstock.

The Coolest Part

Well, a lot of people have a lot of different coolest parts of Iron Ring. But probably the best is looking back up from the bottom and thinking to yourself, “Hey, I just did that!”

Oh, and bonus if you can guess where Iron Ring got its name. Put it in the comments ?

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