UPDATE, 03/19: American Whitewater has announced recreational release dates for the Dries in 2019! We’ve added a several extra dates to take advantage of the new, increased minimum flows. All these dates are listed and are now bookable here. (Scroll to the month of May for first release dates.)
1. In the 1930s, downstream of what rafters and kayakers today call “the Lower New River,” Union Carbide drilled a massive tunnel through Gauley Mountain to divert flow from the New River for power generation. The tunnel and it’s corresponding dam are still there, in operation today, as is the roughly 5.5-mile de-watered section of river bed below the dam affectionately known as, “The Dries.” (If you’ve rafted the Lower New with us, you got off the river about 4 miles upstream of the Dam.)
2. But The Dries are not always dry. Hawk’s Nest Tunnel can support 10,000 cubic feet per second of flow. So what happens when more than that comes barreling downstream? That’s when Hawk’s Nest Dam opens its floodgates to release the excess flow and wet The Dries. The level at which The Dries get wet varies depending on the flow upstream, so this section of river tends to be more catch it when you can, rather than a reliable river run. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t run trips on it…or do we?