Established in 1988, twenty-five miles of the Gauley River and six miles of the Meadow River were forever preserved. The Gauley's complex stretch of whitewater features more than 100 rapids with a steep gradient, technical runs, an incredible volume of water and huge waves! Its vigorous rapids, scenic quality and inaccessibility combine to make the Gauley one of the premier whitewater rivers in the world.
The Gauley River technically flows all year, but most people raft it in the fall during the 22 scheduled release dates of optimal water flows for downstream recreation. During the fall drawdown, the Gauley River's reputation is truly immortalized as America's Best Whitewater®. Thousands of whitewater enthusiasts make the journey to West Virginia to paddle this world-class river’s two sections.
The Upper Gauley
The Upper Gauley is big and intense! This section boasts miles upon miles of major rapids including monster-sized Class V-V+ rapids: Sweet’s Falls, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring, Pillow Rock and Insignificant.
The Lower Gauley
The Lower Gauley, by comparison, is a little less intense but offers an equally boisterous good time! This section rocks with rapids - more than 45 of them ranging from Class I-V. Rapids include Mash, Pure Screaming Hell, Canyon Doors and Heaven Help You to name but a few.
Spring/Summer Lower Gauley River flows (April-August) can vary from 16,000 cfs during the spring months to create the most adventurous time to raft the Gauley River. During the summer months the flows are usually low, the river bed is channelized and the river is very technical. This is the time to experience cold water and a wild and pristine canyon. Few dare to float the Gauley River at this time which means you have the river to yourself.
Gauley River Overnights are world class. Spend the first day padding the Upper Gauley and camping at the river's edge at Canyon Doors. Our cooks are waiting for you to pull in with warm drinks, hot food and though we don't have hot springs, our cedar hot tubs are the ultimate way to warm up on a September or October overnight. A gravity feed spring is heated for hot showers, a perfect way to end an adventurous day. The following morning, you can take another dip in the hot tub after breakfast, then head down the Lower Gauley for a rocking and rolling day of big waves and hydraulics.
In addition to whitewater paddling, there is a wealth of other activities and amenities in the area including: historical sites & towns, hiking trails, state parks, fairs & festivals, artisans, rental cabins & homes, resorts, camping, biking, rock climbing, ATV tours, horseback riding, fishing, treetops canopy tour and so much more.
To book your trip on the Gauley River call Class VI-Mountain River at 866.658.5333!