The Top 5 Upper Gauley River Rapids You Don’t Know About

The Gauley River is famous for whitewater rafting. It’s some of the best in the world, so the Big 6 rapids are pretty well known.
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Insignificant. Pillow Rock. Lost Paddle. Shipwreck Rock. Iron Ring. Sweet’s Falls. You know the ones; they’re the usual whitewater rafting suspects.

But the cool thing about the Gauley is that it’s actually littered with rapids. They’re everywhere.

Here’s a rundown of 5 of the best other ones:

Bud’s Boner: Bud’s isn’t the first really big rapid you get to, or the first really cool rapid you get to. But it is the first really big, really cool rapid you get to. It’s just above Insignificant, too, so it’s a nice warm up for what’s to come.

Buds is made up of two separate, very steep drops. Look for big waves and plenty of manuvering in between, as you’re going to have to watch out for the a huge boulder in between the falls.

Bonus: Big surf hole at the bottom.

Pick-A-Slot: In the interest of time, most Gauley River Marathon trips go around Pick-A-Slot, because it ends in a big horseshoe to get back to the main river current, and hey, they’ve got about 99 other rapids to do.

But everyone else gets to pick a slot. Not counting the sneak route, there are at least four certifiably awesome ways to run it (and a whole lot more that, um, aren’t awesome). Paddle hard into the center, then pick your slot!

Bonus: Off to the right side, there’s a great mini-pillow ride for rafts.


Iron Curtain: Huge. That’s the best way to describe the waves at Iron Curtain. It starts of with a bang and just gets bigger and bigger until WHAM. That’s the sound the big hole at the bottom makes when it smacks you upside the head.

Bonus: It’s the next rapid below Pick-A-Slot.



Scales/Hungry Mother: Two surfing gems, almost back to back. They’re actually two different rapids, but once you get all surf-West-Virginia out there, you just can’t stop.

Try Scales first. It’s a bit tamer (and it’s actually first, so you kind of don’t have a choice). Once you’re feeling it, head on down to Hungry Mother. But don’t go jumping in there unless you’re ready to go big.

Bonus: It’s two of the world’s best surf spots! How much more bonus do you want?!

Keegan’s Falls: Right below Iron Ring rapid, you’re going to hit Keegan’s Falls. And it is *right* below. As in, if you don’t slow down and get ready for it, it’s gonna womp you.

Keegan’s is another two-parter. Long wave train at the top, big drop into a long wave train at the bottom. Awesome, baby.

Bonus: There’s a huge hidden hole at the end of the first wave train that you won’t know is there until you hit it.


Wood’s Ferry: A rapid with as much huge-osity as Wood’s Ferry would be a major, major deal on any other river. But on the Gauley, the enormousness of Wood’s kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

There’s a long entrance to Wood’s, and then it’s on. Holes just get bigger and bigger until, well, you think they can’t get any bigger. And then they get a little bigger.

Bonus: Julie’s Juicer. Ask your guide.
So, there you go. 5 great rapids that tend to get overlooked in the big scheme of the Big 6. Got any others?

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