“The Gauley River in West Virginia is recognized by paddlers as one of the top ranked rivers in the world. Its technical rapids, inaccessibility and scenic quality contribute to its world class designation. Dropping more than 650 feet in 24 miles, the Gauley River features over 100 rapids.”
The river was pretty cool and a lot of fun. I took Friday off work for a three day vacation over to West Virginia. The Gauley River is dam released from Summersville Lake, and the releases don’t start until after Labor Day, so in the summer the water is much lower and a lot more rocks to steer around. There were about 18 total in our group, and we were all in the inflatable ducky kayaks. The river was challenging, but not unmanageable. I fell out twice on the biggest rapids, and there were quite a few people who fell more often navigating the other rapids. There were no pictures! Most rafting trips I’ve been on they had a camera person on some of the rapids. I suspect they would have someone in the Fall. Maybe it was just this trip.
My group stayed at Country Road Cabins which were about 15 minutes away from Adventures on the Gorge, which was the company that took us down the Gauley. We fit five people in the cabin, with a hot tub, grill, and fairly large sized. The max capacity of the cabin said 6, but that is if people double up on the bed and the pullout couch. Not bad for the price, and I would stay there again.
Our raft trip meet up time started at 8:50am, and after about a 25 minute bus ride, we hiked a mile and a half down to the river to pick out our kayaks. There were people who had never been rafting before, or even been kayaking before and did ok. I think the most important thing was to be comfortable in the water floating down rapids if you flip. There was one guy in the group that got nervous before we left, and opted out. Anyone with a sense of adventure could probably do fine. Out of 18 people, every single one of us flipped except the guides. Feet up, feet first. The guides were professional, experienced, and kind. They also had to do a lot of work. In part because people are navigating the river as beginners, so there are spots where the guides setup on the river to help the group through some of the more dangerous water to make sure we didn’t get sucked down a hole. This river would have been a lot more challenging without 5 guides helping us down the rapids. I had so much fun that I am debating about going back in high flow in the raft in September to experience this river in a completely different context.
Summersville Lake was close by from where we were staying, so on Sunday before heading out we drove to see the lake and hiked a short distance to the cliffs. It was so beautiful! I wish I had more time. If I do go back in the Fall I plan to stay right on Summersville Lake and explore the cliffs and waterfalls that are all around.