Best time to raft the gauley river

Best time to raft the gauley river

Gauley River

The Gauley River is known for its world-class whitewater, and it doesn’t disappoint. Dropping more than 650 feet in 25 miles, the Gauley is a paddler’s dream. Split into two sections, Upper and Lower, the Gauley’s class III to IV rapids provide an unforgettable whitewater experience for all types of paddlers. Most rental companies along the Gauley are about a 30-minute drive from the town of Summersville.

Upper Gauley

According to local tour company River Expeditions, the Upper Gauley is “ranked as one of the most uniquely challenging single day whitewater runs in the world.” It’s intense, stunningly beautiful, and a serious stretch of river that will challenge and thrill even the most seasoned paddlers.

The Upper Gauley features over 100 rapids, predominantly in the class IV to V range. This is serious whitewater and is not for beginners or children under 15. The guides in the area that run tours on this section of river are seasoned and talented paddlers. If your skill level is more on the advanced side and you’re looking for a challenge, check out this stretch of whitewater!

River Expeditions
    • Weekdays: $130 per person
    • Saturdays: $180 per person
    • Sundays: $150 per person
Adventures on the Gorge
    • $98 to $170 per person
ACE Rafting
    • Full Day Upper Gauley: $139 per person
    • Rapid Run Three Quarter Day Fall Upper Gauley: $109 per person
    • Double Run Fall Upper Gauley: $239 per person

Lower Gauley

The Lower Gauley stretch of river in West Virginia is a treat for your eyes, and your paddle! The whitewater is plentiful on this 12-mile stretch of class III to V rapids, and with 70 rapids to run, you’ll see why this area is a favorite of expert paddlers the world over. Scheduled dam release days in September guarantee a great time on the river, although there are only a handful of these days each year so they can book up quickly. With charismatic names like Chainsaw, Junkyard and Rooster Tail, the waves on Lower Gauley are whitewater legends that are a must-see if you’re in for some adventure!

River Expeditions
    • Weekdays: $115 per person
    • Saturdays: $160 per person
    • Sundays: $125 per person
ACE Rafting
    • Full Day Fall Lower Gauley: $139 per person
    • Saturday Afternoon Fall Lower Gauley: $79 per person
Adventures on the Gorge
    • $98 to $170 per person

What do you wear whitewater rafting in West Virginia?

Whitewater rafting doesn’t require you to bring any specialized gear with you. Your guiding company will have all the technical gear covered; you’ll just need to make sure you’re dressed for adventure!

Generally, any athletic clothing that’s comfortable and allows for a good range of movement will be great for your day on the river. What you’ll need to pay the most attention to is the weather. There is a long season for whitewater rafting in West Virginia and the temperatures can vary dramatically, both morning to night and season to season. Spring can be crisp, especially in the morning, and summer days are sunny and humid.

If you’re heading out on a spring adventure in West Virginia, make sure you pack layers! A quick drying and warm base layer (like merino wool) will be essential on chilly May mornings. Pack a mid-layer that provides some good warmth as well—a down hoodie or fleece jacket will be good here. For bottoms, try to stick with durable, non-cotton fabrics. Cotton is heavy and cold when it’s wet, and it takes a long time to dry out in comparison with synthetics. Long pants or shorts are fine, depending on the time of year. Keep in mind that whitewater rafting isn’t the gentlest of activities, so if you’re conscious of getting scrapes or bruises on your knees, pants or tights will be your best bet.

Shoes are one of the most important parts of your whitewater rafting attire. Always, always, always wear closed-toe shoes! You can opt for a neoprene water shoe or covered sandal if you like, or a full running shoe or day hiker—as long as they buckle or tie onto your feet and have a covered toe, you’re good to go.

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