The 5 Most Extreme Adventures on the Gorge

5. The Half-Day Summersville Lake Adventure

A Summersville Lake adventure only comes in at number 5, because you can actually make it relaxing if you want to. You can lounge on a pontoon boat and sip beverages all day long, if that’s your thing or you can rock climb off the deck of that same boat, cliff jump (within legal height limits), explore hidden, cliff-lined coves and stand-up paddleboard under waterfalls. Your choice. 

For the most adventurous of those activities, our money is on the rock climbing.

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Adventures on the Gorge lodging white water rafting, new river, gauley river, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, rappelling

4. The Upper Gauley (or Bonus: The Double Upper)

They don’t call it the Beast of the East for nothing. The Upper Gauley River has the full package. It is simultaneously fast and pushy, big and fluffy, steep and intimidating. This world-famous section of whitewater river has a certain gravitas about it, and any guide out there will tell you that to navigate it successfully, you have to slow things down and think things through, not plow ahead. Highlights include Pillow Rock (Class V), which some people call “the best 10 seconds in American whitewater,” the climactic Sweet’s Falls (Class V, pictured), and Lost Paddle (Class V), which is so long and so hair raising, that your arms will beg for mercy by the end. 

BONUS: Oh, is that not enough for you? Okay. Try it twice in one day.

 3. The Summer Gauley

Most people have heard of the Gauley River and “Gauley Season,” which is comprised of the six or seven weekends in a row starting after Labor Day. During that time, the US Army Corps of Engineers guarantees flood-like flows from Summersville Dam specifically so we can all go whitewater boating.  However, the Gauley runs almost year round, just not with guaranteed flows. In the summer, it generally has far less water than in the fall, so we bring out the inflatable kayaks, AKA duckies, and go rafting. Can you imagine it? The Gauley River…and you the captain of your own ship, the master of your own fate. 

Don’t worry, we still have some of our most senior guides along to help you.

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2. The Spring Lower New River Gorge

In April and May, winter snowmelt will combine with seasonal rains to create something unique on the East Coast: spring rafting on the Lower New River. 

To borrow a sports metaphor, if you’re Barry Sanders bobbing and weaving on the Gauley River in Fall, then on the New River in spring, you’re Refrigerator Perry lined up as a full back. In other words, paddle as hard as you can; smash into walls of water.

The raft guides in this video can explain what we love most about spring rafting. 


1. The Ultimate 4 Day Double Upper Gauley Overnight

The ultimate Upper Gauley challenge, this trip takes on the Beast of the East twice a day for four days in a row.  In addition to eight trips down the craziest stretch of whitewater around, this adventure features three nights of camping on the banks of the river, riverside meals, and more adrenaline than most people will experience in their lifetime crammed into the most extreme four-day weekend we could dream up.  This trip is not for the faint-of-heart, first-time rafters, or anyone not prepared to take on the “Big Five” Class V rapids of the Upper Gauley so many times that you are guaranteed more whitewater action than you wished for.


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