While the Gauley's at its peak in the fall, it doesn't disappoint in the spring and summer.
At this time of year, we never know what's in store until the morning of our trip: the water could be astronomically high or barely a trickle. Whichever it is, there's no such thing as a tame level on the Gauley. That's part of why guides look forward to these days: they are spontaneous and surprising.
We'll pick the boats and river section most appropriate for the water level. Be ready for anything!
In the Spring, the Gauley can run at water levels that are much higher than during fall releases. When this happens, we typically run Gauley River rafting trips on the Middle and Lower sections of the river. You might catch rapids near standard fall release, or you might even be lucky enough to run the Lower Gauley at levels three to five times higher than normal fall flows—that's the cream of the crop, the baddest whitewater trip we can offer.
Summertime levels typically change the appearance of the Gauley River drastically. There's much less water, which makes makes the river narrower and the drops steeper. Exciting! You'll run the same rapids that have made the Gauley River famous, but in six or four-person rafts or inflatable one-person duckies. This trip is a challenge and may take you out of your river rafting comfort zone, but it promises to give you an exciting close-up view of some booming whitewater.
If the Gauley is not running at acceptable flows, we may run the Lower New River instead, but we'll upgrade you to a small raft at no extra charge.
This is an advanced, technical trip for experienced rafters. In fact, rafting experience may not be enough. You should have prior two-bladed paddling experience in either a ducky or a kayak. You must be confident and physically able, and strong swimming skills are highly recommended.
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.
Gauley River Rapids Classification
Class III-V whitewater (on a scale of I to VI), with a few pools for relaxing and swimming.
Boat size on this trip is based on the water level. You could be in anything from a single-person duckie (inflatable kayak), a guided 12-foot R4 or 14-foot R6 boat, or a full-sized 16 foot boat. All boats, besides duckies will have a guide. When this is a duckie trip, guides go along in kayaks or duckies to assist.
Time on Water
Because this trip varies so much, it's hard to say how much time you'll be on the water. This is a full day trip. Depending on the water level, you'll spend between 3-6 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 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. Depending on the time of year and the weather, you may also want a synthetic layer. If necessary, wetsuits and splash jackets are available for rent. Call us to book those, too.
Requirements & Restrictions
The Summer Gauley minimum age is 15 years old. Our PFDs (personal floatation devices) have a maximum chest capacity of 58 inches. We highly recommend an ability to swim and previous paddling experience on this trip.
Your guides and leaders will discuss specific safety requirements on site.