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White Water Rafting the Gauley River

Updated on December 5, 2013

Wild and Wonderful

The Gauley River in West Virginia is one of the top whitewater runs in the world. Stretching for nearly 30 miles and dropping more than 650 feet along the way, it's no wonder that West Virginia is known for being Wild and Wonderful .

The Gauley features more than 100 rapids, including several class V+ runs. The upper Gauley offers some whitewater adventures for experienced rafters only , all persons in your party must be 16 years of age or older . This section of the Gauley River has a variety of class III-V+ runs to choose from.

The lower Gauley also has an age limit of a minimum of 12-14 years of age, and class ratings from III-V. This twelve mile section of the river is like a wet roller coaster ride.

Park Information

The Gauley River National Recreation Area is located between Summersville Dam and Swiss, West Virginia, encompassing 11,495 acres of land.

Gauley Season opens starting the Friday after Labor Day and runs for six consecutive weekends. During Gauley Season, the Army Corps of Engineers get the water rushing with twenty-two controlled daily releases.

* Gauley River Trivia *

A Union victory in the American Civil War, the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, was fought in the Gauley area on September 10, 1861.

* Gauley River Trivia *

A boater named Sam Martin mashed his hand while running this rapid for the first time, giving this first big rapid of the lower Gauley its name, Mash, during the early 70s. 

Whitewater Outfitters

West Virginia has more than twenty licensed guide companies and whitewater rafting outfitters that all offer some great vacation packages. Packages vary and some adventures include: guided fishing trips, rock climbing tours, mountain biking, horseback riding, and of course whitewater rafting.

ACE Adventure Center

  • ACE Adventure Resort has been featured as North America's Largest Adventure Resort on the Travel Channel.
  • #1 rated Adventure Outfitter in the state for more than a decade.
  • 5-acre play lake.
  • Close to National Park trails for endless exploration.
  • Zipline Canopy Tours.
  • On site real ghost towns.
  • and much more....

North American River Runners

  • Established in 1975 and one of the largest outfitters in West Virginia.
  • Home of the oldest Kayak School in West Virginia.
  • Activities include: whitewater rafting, fishing, ropes courses, climbing, paintball and camping.
  • Guided Fishing Trips
  • and much more....

River Expeditions

  • Full day trips average about 5 to 7 hours round trip from the River Expeditions base camp.
  • Guides meet, or exceed, all West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Safety Standards and specific First Aid and CPR Training.
  • The upper New River is great for children and elderly riders.
  • Order a full hot breakfast or supper meal in the dining area.
  • and much more....


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    • annmeadows profile image

      annmeadows 7 years ago from Mobile, Al.

      I haven't been brave enough to raft, yet. Someday I might. Great Hub.