Twenty-six miles. 668 feet of elevation loss. More than 100 rapids, 53 of them rated Class III or higher.
If you're up for the ultimate challenge, you can experience the thrill of the entire West Virginia Gauley river, Upper and Lower, in one day. That's what the Gauley River Marathon is all about: it's a trip for people that want it all, all at once.
You'll tear through the Upper Gauley's 60+ intense rapids, including the "Big 5." Instead of finishing your day at the usual Upper Gauley take-out, you'll continue downriver into the huge waves and holes in the rapids of the Lower Gauley. Two of the three biggest waves on the Gauley are on the Lower section, and with Class-V rapids like the "Mashes," "Heaven's Gates" and "Pure Screaming Hell," the Lower Gauley has plenty in store.
We don't recommend the Marathon for your first rafting trip.
About the Gauley River
The Gauley is characterized by multiple heavy rapids, requiring tight, technical maneuvering. In total, it is 24-26 miles long, but is often split into two main sections—the Upper and Lower Gauley.
About the Lower Gauley River
The Lower Gauley is a long run—17 miles—and though there are a few pools for relaxing and swimming, most of that length is spent in whitewater, with much of it class III-V. Though it doesn't pack quite the punch as the Upper Gauley in terms of technique and steely nerves needed, this river section should not be underestimated. It is the most advanced river section that we feel is appropriate for first-time rafters.
About the Upper Gauley River
The Upper Gauley is the cream of the whitewater crop. It is intimidating, and for good reason. This section of the river packs quite a punch, and may be the most high-adventure trip that most rafters will ever attempt. You can expect a world-class guide and an adventure you will never forget.
Gauley River Rapids Classification
Class III-V whitewater (on a scale of I to VI), with a few pools for relaxing and swimming.
Lower Gauley River Rapids Classification
Class III through V
Upper Gauley River Rapids Classification
Class IV through V
On class III-IV and harder trips, a guide sits in every raft and provides instruction at each major rapid and throughout the trip. On some trips like the Upper New and Summer Gauley, guests may be in their own inflatable kayaks (duckies). If that is the case, guides will be present to instruct, advise and assist.
Our standard rafts are 16 feet long, comfortably seating 8-9 guests and a guide.
Time on Water
This is a full day trip. Depending on the water level, you'll spend between 5-7 hours on the water plus shuttle time to and from the river.
We provide transportation from our resort to the river and back again, all rafting equipment (helmet, life jacket, paddle and boat) and the best hot riverside lunch in the world of rafting. Be assured you will not go hungry!
What to Bring
Bring any medication you need throughout the day, plus sunscreen, sunglasses and a change of clothes to keep at the resort upon your return. Guides carry small waterproof bags to stow necessary medications. The average water temperature on the Gauley River in the fall is 50 degrees. You may want to bring a synthetic layer. Wetsuits and splash jackets are available for rent.
Requirements & Restrictions
The minimum age for this trip is 16 years old. Our PFDs (personal floatation devices) have a maximum chest capacity of 58 inches. We strongly recommend that all participants have had prior rafting experience. Participants should also be able to swim.
Your guides and leaders will discuss specific safety requirements on site.