Upper GauleyDropping more than 650 vertical feet through 28 miles of rugged terrain, the upper Gauley River's complex stretch of whitewater features more than 120 explosive rapids, technical runs, huge waves, and an incredible volume of water. The Upper Gauley offers tremendous class III to V+ rapids, chutes, and rocky routes with names like "Insignificant," "Pillow Rock," "Lost Paddle," "Iron Ring," and the infamous "Sweet's Falls." The Upper Gauley is classified as one of the best rivers for whitewater rafting in the world. If action, exhilaration, and a pure adrenaline rush are what you crave, then it's hard to resist a river described by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, as "the most exciting experience of my life." Experience is required, and the minimum age is 16.
Lower GauleySometimes overshadowed, but certainly not to be overlooked, is the lower Gauley River, which provides primarily Class III-VI rapids on a 12-mile run between astounding canyon walls. Named for the experience they offer, rapids such as "Heaven Help You," "Pure Screaming Hell," and "Roller Coaster" combine to make this section of river a real treat for adventurous first-time rafters, as well as a favorite of most seasoned boaters. It is also the perfect prelude to the world-renowned Upper Gauley River. Minimum age is 12-14.
New RiverThough water levels are turned up for Gauley Season, there are ways to take in West Virginia's awesome scenery on milder waterways. Rafting trips are also available on the upper and lower portions of the New River. Children as young as six years old are permitted to raft on the Upper New, as calm, flat water with just a sprinkle of Class II and III rapids makes for a leisurely day. Like a reliable friend, the lower New River is still West Virginia's top draw when it comes to attracting those who want the best of everything about whitewater rafting.
When: Gauley Season begins the weekend after Labor day and runs from Friday through Monday for five consecutive weekends, and just Saturday and Sunday the sixth weekend. The 2011 release dates for Gauley Season are September 9-12, 16-19, 23-26 and 30, and Oct. 1-3, 7-10 and 15-16, 2011.
Where: Located in southern West Virginia, the Gauley River National Recreation Area is between Summersville Dam and Swiss, West Virginia. Access is via WV Route 129, off US Route 19. The closest airports are at Beckley and Charleston, WV.
Gauley River Festival - Gauley Fest 2011The largest river festival in the world is part of the annual Gauley River dam release. Gauley Fest is a three-day event, featuring live entertainment, a whitewater marketplace, food and beer, and a silent auction. The Gauley River Festival is a fundraising event for American Whitewater. Though GauleyFest runs for three days, the main events are held on Saturday afternoon and evening.
September 16-18, 2011
Bridge Day 2011Celebrated annually on the third weekend of October as a tribute to the construction of the New River Gorge Bridge in 1977, Bridge Day is a day dedicated to Base Jumping off the New River Bridge. Bridge Day also features organized walks and hikes, parachuting and rappelling demonstrations, music, and food, music, and vendor booths/ Most rafting outfitters offer special packages for day trips and overnight trips on both sections of the Gauley.
Saturday, October 15, 2011