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White Water Rafting in WV

Updated on May 13, 2015

The Best Vacation Ever!

If you're looking for fun mini-vacation, you should try white water rafting in West Virginia. Seriously! My husband and I just got back from our first white water rafting trip and we can't wait to go again!

The river trip we took is a relatively easy one. The Lower New River Gorge is 7 miles of class III to V rapids. It's perfect for beginners of all ages, and I mean that literally. Our guide, Ryan, told us he took his 4 year old daughter on that same trip. And our other guide, Mark, took his mom. So this is a fun adventure your whole family can enjoy.

Why don't you take a look at our trip and then see what you think!

This is us!

Hi! I'm Cat and this is my husband John. Although we both enjoy outdoor activities, we lack the motivation to actually get off our butts and do something (in other words, we're lazy). Most of the time you'll find us sitting at home doing nothing. In fact, that's how we spent all of last summer.

I wasn't going to let that happen again. This year, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do this summer and I made a commitment to check each of them off before summer ends.

White water rafting was number 3 on that list and I'm proud to say there's a pretty green check mark right next to it!

Ready to take a trip?

We chose to book our trip with New and Gauley River Adventures. They're a small outdoor adventure company located in Lansing, West Virginia. At first I was scared that booking with a small company would mean our trip wouldn't be as fun, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Their smaller size meant a more personable service.

Although the rafting trips were strictly scheduled, everything else was relaxed. There's no check-in or check-out time for camping, which was nice because we arrived late. Instead of assigned campsites, we were allowed to camp wherever we wanted. Dinner was "around 5 o'clock". That actually turned out to be closer to 6 o'clock but we nobody minded because we spent the extra hour mingling with all the guides. Everyone was so nice! It was like being part of one big happy family.

We booked an overnight double express. That means we got to camp for 2 nights and make two trips down the river. We arrived late on Friday, too late to really do anything. So we set up our campsite and then spent a couple hours window shopping in Lansing.

Our Campsite!

Our Campsite!
Our Campsite!

The next morning we got up early because our first trip was scheduled for 8 am. The bus ride to the raft launch took about 30 minutes so the guides used that time to give us our safety instructions and rafting tips. This is when we realized we were in for a fun ride. Along with the normal safety tips, we also got some funny ones such as "If you fall in, take the nearest person in with you. That way you aren't the only one getting laughed at"

Our Guides

I can't thank Ryan and Mark enough. They made our trips down the river absolutely unforgettable. They expertly guided us through each rapid and in the interim, they told jokes so funny we're still laughing at them.

During the first trip, I have Mark to thank for keeping me in the boat. I almost fell out 4 times, but each time he steadied me with a hand on my back. Because we had some extra time to kill, we got to surf a rapid 3 times! Basically, that means instead of going with the flow of the water and going down the rapid, you turn the raft around and paddle up a rapid. This makes the raft get tossed and turned every which way. On our third try, our boat actually flipped! I got sucked under the boat and then shot out about 15 feet into the calmer water. It was such a rush!

We had 19 rapids on our trip, each with it's own varying degree of difficulty. Because we had gone out so early, we were the only raft on the river. It was so cool to have it all to ourselves! Here's some pictures we got of us navigating through one of the rapids:

Our first white water rafting trip

Done with this one. On to the next!
Done with this one. On to the next!

Under the New River Bridge

Under the New River Bridge
Under the New River Bridge

And that was the end of the first trip

If my smile looks a little crooked, it's because I busted my lip when the raft flipped. But, no worries. They had a first aid kit equipped with wipes, gauze and antibiotics.

I'm glad I took this on our trip!

While I realize it would be just as easy to drink out of a plastic bottle, I'm a can person. So I brought 2 of these with us to keep our drinks from getting full of water. They worked great until we flipped. By the time we all got back in the raft, our cans were nowhere in sight. I'm guessing they're still floating somewhere in northern West Virginia...

This self cleaning outhouse located at the raft launch cost $1 million to build!

This self cleaning outhouse located at the raft launch cost $1 million to build!
This self cleaning outhouse located at the raft launch cost $1 million to build!

Round 2

After the first trip, we went back to campsite to eat lunch and to pick up some more rafters. Our second trip was a little different from the first. This time Ryan was our only guide because Mark was guiding his own raft (Yikes! No one to keep me in the boat!). The biggest difference was the amount of traffic on the river. It was so packed there was actually a line of rafts before each rapid. But we still had fun. In fact, after you view the pictures from our second trip, I'll tell you about the one unbelievable happenstance that made this trip truly unforgettable.

Our second trip

What made our second trip unforgettable?

Our guide, Ryan

About halfway through the trip, a huge wave knocked the boat up in the air. When we came down, John fell into the raft, I almost fell out of the raft, and Ryan fell forward, catching himself with his hands. We righted ourselves and with Ryan shouting directions, we navigated through the rapid. As soon as we were clear, Ryan said "Hey guys. Look at this.". When we looked back at him, he was holding up his hand and his pinky was bending the wrong way! Apparently, when he fell forward, he had dislocated his pinky finger. I couldn't believe he was sitting there so calmly when he must have been in excruciating pain. Heck, I couldn't believe he had been able to shout directions to us without letting on what had happened!

Thankfully, Marks boat was just a little ways away and after a little shouting, they rowed over to help. I couldn't watch as Mark reset Ryan's finger. I'm not queasy or anything like that. I just couldn't watch someone go through that much pain. They decided not to splint it because that would have prevented Ryan from gripping his oar. Although we had to row a little more after that, the rest of the trip was just as fun as the first one. After the pain died down a little, Ryan started back up with his jokes like nothing ever happened. His only regret was that we forgot to take a picture of his hand before Mark reset it.

I'm so glad I brought this on our trip!

We had a box similar to the one below, except it didn't have a strap attached to it. Because I was planning on it holding our car keys, wallets and camera, I didn't want to take the chance of it falling out of the raft. So I decided to just go ahead and buy this one and I'm so glad I did! We were able to attach it to the raft by hooking a carabiner to the attached strap, and because it's watertight, we were able to bring our camera with us. If it hadn't been attached to the raft when it flipped, we would have lost everything!

Let's take a closer look!

aka Let's laugh at John!

My husband will hate me for this, but I couldn't resist. Whenever we show our pictures to people, they all say the same thing. Were you two on the same trip? In every single picture I look like I'm having the time of my life:

Meanwhile, John looks terrified! And when he's not looking terrified, he looks like he's in the fight of his life! But I guess looks can be deceiving because he says he had a blast!

Some awesome photography!

Every single trip down the river is caught on film by the amazing photographers from Whitewater Photography. After your trip, they print out a bunch of 8x10 photo's so you can decide if you want to purchase them. One picture is $20. Three or more are $15 each. I know what you're thinking. Yikes! But for $60 you can get all the 8x10's and a cd with all the pictures (plus you get all ownership rights).

I have to be honest with you. I really wasn't planning on buying any pictures. I expected them to be grainy, out of focus and just plain crappy. I figured you wouldn't even be able to tell it was us in the raft. But, once again, I was wrong. We ended up getting a great deal because they included all the pictures from both trips in the cd. Those pictures brought our bragging rights to a whole new level so it was totally worth the money. If this isn't skilled photography, then I don't know what is.

Hold on! We're not done yet!

That may be the end of our white water rafting, but that's not the end of our trip. Knowing I wouldn't want to cook a meal after rafting all day, I had made reservations for a bbq chicken meal from the on-site pub and grill. I can't even describe how delicious it was. The chicken was cooked to juicy perfection and the barbecue baked beans had just the right mix of flavors. Because my front tooth had been knocked loose when our raft flipped, I had to cut the corn off the cob in order to eat it, but it still tasted just as good. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

What are your thoughts on white water rafting?

Is it something you think you would try?

See results

A Huge Thank You!

I can't leave without saying thanks to New & Gauley River Adventures

for giving us such a wonderful fun filled weekend. The entire experience went way beyond my expectations.

In fact, I think it's going to be

pretty hard to top.

Til we meet again...

So, what did you think of our trip? - Anyone can leave a comment (even you!).

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    • profile image

      raftingmalaysia 4 years ago

      This is a great lens to read. Love the information and layout. The photos are excellent too! Maybe on day you should make a trip to Malaysia and try one of our whitewater rafting rivers :)

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Amazing photos! It looked like you had fun and John has great expressions for sure! I'm not quite ready for white water like that yet. Maybe I can work up to it and try a more intermediate level first!!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Loved the story and the photos! It was certainly a most memorable day for the two of you, haha! I've only been on the calm Truckee in a raft, years ago. But my partner has rafted the Colorado, and that's a real challenge from what she says.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Great story and great photos. Amazing.

    • alina nicoleta92 profile image

      alina nicoleta92 5 years ago

      I think you really had a good time on that trip. So jealous.

    • Kae Yo profile image

      Kae Yo 5 years ago

      That looks like so much fun! I think I'd like to give it a try now. The pictures were amazing! Congratulations on making the front page!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is great! makes me wanna do something fun right on the spur.

    • bjesparza profile image

      bjesparza 5 years ago

      Wow that looks like fun! Great pictures as well!

    • profile image

      fryroost 5 years ago

      Nice its seems like i toured with you :D

      Pain Management

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      TOO COOL!! What will the next trip be? Love how you did the photos, layout, everything. Felt like I was white water rafting in WV.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      That was amazing! Thanks for sharing.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      It was a great trip, sure you enjoy it, and you have a great presentation here

    • xXOUTDOORSXx profile image

      xXOUTDOORSXx 5 years ago

      It looks like you had fun

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Enjoyed the trip, and I wasn't even there. I could imagine the fun you had, because my wife an I went on a similar trip, and it was amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      justin-yao 5 years ago

      You really have a great vocation.

    • profile image

      davecurrtis 5 years ago

      This is really exciting, white rafting is an experience one must have. The rush and water, everything's so excited

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens with really amazing photographs. I've been rafting before but not over serious rapids... White water rafting is definitely on my bucket list. ~blessed~

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Awesome! I used to go to summer camp on the Allegheny river in WV and went white water canoeing-would love to try rafting-Really good photos :>)

      Blessed!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      This was great to read! My husband and I are going WWR in a month. Now i'm a little scared - i'll be sure to watch my fingers and lips! Eek!!

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 5 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Wow what a fabulous white water rafting trip and what great photos!

    • rallo-smith profile image

      rallo-smith 5 years ago

      Great pictures! Looks like you had a blast. Thanks for sharing.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love white water rafting especially when we use this for team building. You really look you had the time of your life.

    • TheJVilleKid profile image

      TheJVilleKid 5 years ago

      Looks so fun! Must do it someday! Thanks for the lens and congrats on the Purple star!

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 5 years ago

      I love the look on your face as you race down the river! So much fun!

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Great lens, awesome pictures, thanks for sharing. Pinned a Tweet on Google+

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      Looks like you had an awesome time!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Loved the pictures. I used to do a lot of white water rafting in my youth and this sure made me remember those fun times. Congrats on your purple star

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      I did this about 25 years ago on the fabulous Nymboida River in New South Wales, Australia. Ours was a progressive journey down the river over four days which meant carrying clothing in watertight barrels and sleeping under the stars. Definitely one of my most memorable holidays. Awesome!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Wow this looks great...thanks for taking us along on the ride :) Blessed by a SquidAngel