The New River Gorge is home to the one of the most legendary stretches of whitewater known around the world. But not many know that just downstream from its famous bridge and Hawk’s Nest Lake lies a section of technical rapids that snake around house-sized boulders, a secluded place where the towering Nuttall Sandstone cliffs meet the river’s lapping edge. Herein lies the Dries, a rarely paddled five-mile stretch of the New River.
The Dries get its name from a hydropower project that dammed and diverted water from the New River through a tunnel, effectively bypassing 5.5 miles of the original riverbed and leaving it mostly dry throughout the year.
On September 8, 2020, a project to repair the Hawk’s Nest Dam began. Hawks Nest Reservoir, which was created for the purposes of power generation, will be taken down approximately 25 feet to ensure the safety of those working on the project.
The area known as the “Dries” will be flowing with the full flow of the New River as it did 83 years ago. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to run the New River and The Dries as Mother Nature intended for her to flow.
Images below show rapids on the New River that have been lost for 83 years.