Wondering what the best cure for the winter off-season blues is? Please don’t say more snow. Even if you are a snow bunny, please don’t say more snow!
I’ve got something even better. Spring rafting on the New River is back and it’s pumping. The first commercial trip of the season went out Saturday, March 8th. Three guests, two guides and myself went along with our safety boater on a lovely near 60-degree spring day. It was the perfect first day of the 2014 season, and now I can’t shake the river off my mind.
So what tends to be the difference between spring rafting and summer rafting on the New River? During the spring we get a lot of snowmelt and rainfall that makes the river have significantly more volume than normal summer flow. Last year with all of the extra rain, we actually saw more high-water days than normal. High water means bigger waves and bigger hydraulics. Think of being in the front of raft and seeing a huge wall of water ahead of the raft. Then, imagine crashing through it. Now, imagine wave after wave of this. That’s spring rafting.
So what kind of weather should I be prepared for and what should I wear? Water and air temps vary quite a bit in the spring. Your best bet is to check the weather before coming, but never worry. We have wetsuits, neoprene jackets and booties, and splash jackets to rent for a very low price. Check here for more info on rental equipment. We also highly recommend base layers of poly-pro, fleece or any synthetic clothing. NEVER bring cotton, as it will make you feel much colder as it gets wet. Cotton is only suited for HOT days when you want to be cooled. Neoprene gloves and wool socks work really well for spring rafting too.
Another advantage of spring rafting is that not all the trees are in bloom so you can see a lot of the old remains of the coal mine towns of the New River. It’s amazing how much more of the old bridges, coke ovens, company stores and rock ledges can be seen on the river in the spring.
Keep in mind if the river is above 10,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) or just over 5 feet, the minimum age for the Lower New goes to 14. Spring rafting is best suited for folks who enjoy big volume rafting and a little more excitement. To check out what the river levels are before your next adventure at ACE click here. We hope to see you all on the river soon. Especially as these spring days get longer and warmer. It’s the perfect season to raft in WV!