The Top 5 Gauley River Questions (And Answers) From The Ace Reservations Staff

Pillow Rock Rapid, Gauley River, WV

Pillow Rock Rapid, Gauley River, WV


Ah, the life of an ACE reservationist. During Gauley River season, it gets pretty intense. There are a lot of parts and pieces to a whitewater rafting trip, after all. And you need someone to make it all happen. Easily. No headaches, right?

Asked here at the ACE reservations office about rafting on the Gauley River:
When should I book my trip?
This is the number one most popular question our guests ask us. And the answer is simple…NOW! Every year we take 10,000 people down the Gauley River and some groups make reservation over a year in advance.
This does not mean we cannot make your reservation today. It does mean now is the time to get your group organized. Call us! We can help figure out the right trip for you, the price per person, what type of lodging is still available, and we can even help set up a reservation for individual payments.
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance (of your vacation).
What time is my trip?
Honestly, we don’t know yet. The fact is that ACE will wait to assign Fall Gauley trip times until two weeks prior to the date of your trip. This enables us to organize the day based on who is actually going. This is also why it is so important to make reservations as far in advance as possible.
These are the basic ideas behind when Gauley Trips depart. All Gauley Marathon, Upper Gauley and Double Upper Gauley trips go bright and early to catch the water as it is released from Summersville Dam and allow time to get to the end before the water is shut off in the afternoon.
All Lower Gauley trips go later in the morning. We have to wait for the water to move down to the Lower section of the river. Eventually trip times do fill to complete capacity. This means that sometimes we cannot make that last minute add-on without changing around your trip time, so book and add early.
What trip is right for me?
This is an age-old question. Lucky for all of us, there’s an easy answer: whichever one is going to be more fun.
Meaning, what kind of person are you? Super Extreme, or Adventurous-Yet-Inexperienced? Because there are two sections of the Gauley River: the Upper and the Lower.
The Lower Gauley is the perfect step up from the New River, and a great choice for adventurous first-time rafters. The Lower Gauley offers just enough class V whitewater to excite you without going too far out of a first-timers comfort zone. The Lower Gauley offers mostly Class III-IV whitewater with big rolling waves and stunning scenery. There are three Class V rapids, which help keep the excitement level high, without overwhelming you all day long.
The Upper Gauley is ranked 7th for best whitewater in the world. Whitewater rafting enthusiasts from around the globe make their way to West Virginia to experience one of the best whitewater experiences. Big Class V rapids, challenging and technical whitewater, and big thrills are what you’ll find on the Upper G.
Where can I stay?
It is always best to stay on-site (we are a resort, after all), and there are lots of options. We have our deluxe cabins and chalets with kitchens, full bathrooms, linens and hot tubs. But don’t be close-minded about something more rustic.
If you’re willing to camp, but just don’t have the gear; we can help with that! You can rent one of our standard dome tents, which we will set up for you before you check in. We can even provide sleeping bags and pillows. Add in a meals package and you just have to bring yourself, some dry clothes and a flashlight – we’ll take care of the rest.
What should I wear?
It is better to have and not need, than to need and not have. Someone smart said that a long time ago.
From the first day of Gauley season to the last day the water is colder then most people expect. The New spoils us all summer long with 70-degree
water, but the Gauley just doesn’t work that way. The Gauley River is released from the bottom of Summersville Lake and has not seen sunshine in quite some time, which means it can be, um, brisk.
But don’t worry; we have that covered, too. First piece of advice: bring options. Bathing suit is vital, with or without a wetsuit. A middle layer is good if you get cold easily or you just want some more padding. Things like fleece, polypropylene, warm Under-Armor or some other non-cotton layering pieces that are good.
Next, we always recommend a wetsuit. I always suggest counting on getting a wetsuit, for a little more then $20 we will outfit you with a neoprene wetsuit; booties, farmer john overall style wetsuit, and long sleeve full zip jacket.
A note: We’ve gone entire Gauley Seasons in just river shorts. It’s just as likely that you’ll catch a warm day on the river (even hot, some years) as you will a cold one.
Another note: DON’T WEAR COTTON!
Honestly, there are a lot more questions I could have put on this list, but I only had space for five. Plus, the whole reason our reservations office is here is to answer your questions, no matter how silly you may think it may be (it’s not; trust me). It’s always better to ask then come all the way from home with out that fleece you now wish you had. Or pillow. Or whatever.
Hope this helps, and don’t forget to call if you have questions. Better yet, put them in the comments below!


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