South Charleston, W.Va. –West Virginia Division of Tourism Commissioner Betty Carver announces the Gauley River rafting season begins Sept. 6 with the first Summersville Dam water release of the season.
Beginning Sept. 6 and throughout the next seven weekends, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will unleash thousands of gallons of water from the Summersville Dam in Nicholas County. These events create the most intense whitewater rafting east of the Mississippi, transforming the Gauley River into the “Beast of the East.” A legendary whitewater experience and ranked among the best in the world, the Gauley is a combination of non-stop exhilaration and stunning scenery with more Class IV and V rapids than any other river in the Eastern United States.
“Rafters both locally and around the country look forward to this time of year, and I am especially excited about the midweek releases,” said Bobby Bower, Executive Director of West Virginia Professional River Outfitters. “The Upper Gauley will still run the normal 2,800 CFS on Tuesdays, offering all the excitement without the crowds. Wednesday and Thursday midweek releases will bump up to 5,300 CFS, making the underrated Lower Gauley an epic big-wave adventure.”
The water release dates are scheduled as follows:
Sept. 6-9, 13-30, Oct. 1-6, 12-13 and 19-20 (Note: Oct. 19 is Bridge Day, but there is still rafting that day.)
As a result of a normal, routine inspection conducted every 10 years of the Summersville Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers, this year’s release will be 32 days instead of the traditional 23, including a streak of 24 uninterrupted days of rafting opportunities. This was made possible by adding weekday releases, giving additional chances to soak in the fun.
Throughout West Virginia, there are a number of other outstanding whitewater rafting opportunities. The New River will thrill with its 240-foot drop over a 14-mile stretch as it cuts its way through a 1,000-foot-deep sandstone gorge. The Class I to V rapids make it a perennial favorite with rafters from around the country. The Upper New is perfect for float and fishing trips, while the Middle New turns up the excitement with Class II and III rapids. The Lower New runs through the heart of the gorge, passing beneath the longest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
Heading north, adventure enthusiasts will find the boulder-strewn canyon of the Cheat River which contains more than 30 technical rapids in the Class III to IV range. The Tygart also ranks among the mightiest rivers in the nation while also offering mostly uncrowded runs due to its location. This 10-mile-long river boasts rapids ranging from Class I to V and is home to Wells Falls, considered the most powerful, runnable drop in the Monongahela River basin.
The Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, in the Eastern Panhandle, offer rapids that are great for families and group outings. The river route, through scenic Harpers Ferry, also provides opportunity to enjoy our history from a different perspective.
There are many outstanding outfitters that know these rivers like the back of their hands and look forward to helping you have a fantastic rafting experience. Visit www.wvtourism.com
or contact 1 800 CALL WVA for more information on the challenge you choose. Come enjoy wild and wonderful West Virginia like never before.