Twenty-five miles of free-flowing Gauley River and six miles of the Meadow River pass through scenic gorges and valleys containing a wide variety of natural and cultural features.
The Gauley River contains several class V rapids, making it one of the most adventurous whitewater rafting rivers in the east. But aside from the droves of visitors who come for the annual Gauley Season of whitewater releases from Summersville Dam, the Gauley River National Recreation Area sees very little traffic compared to its southern sister, the New River Gorge. That means this: if you want to step off the beaten track, the Gauley is unparalleled.
There's a lot to see in these untrodden gorges, and just like during fall Gauley Season, the river is the main attraction year round. If you have 4-wheel drive and you know how to drive it, you can make all the way to the river in your vehicle. Be sure to check out the classic rapids, like Sweets Falls and Iron Ring while the water is low, and imagine the river's topography when rafts and kayak bounce over and around the rocks. For more accessible adventure, check out the huge children's playground atop and at the northern end of Summersville Dam, or drive to the bottom and have a gander at this enormous earthen construction, which creates Summersville Lake, the largest in West Virginia.
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