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What is Gauley Season?

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

It’s friends huddling together with anticipation at the base of Summersville Dam. It’s early-morning fog rolling off the Gauley River canyon. It’s your heart racing with adrenaline at the top of a class V rapid. 

It’s Gauley Season. 

And among the rafting communities here in West Virginia, it’s the most anticipated seven weeks of the year.  Unfortunately, with all our excitement, we often assume that everyone else is as familiar with Gauley Season as we are. Too often, the truth is, potential boaters are missing out because they don’t even  know what “Gauley Season” means.

If you fall into that category, we’ve got some explaining to do

Gauley Season is an annual September/October recreational whitewater release that creates some of the best whitewater in the world for a coveted set of weekends each fall.

Gauley Season 2019 Release Dates

• Sept 6,7,8,9
• Sept 13,14,15,16
• Sept 20,21,22,23
• Sept 27,28,29,30
• Oct 4,5,6
• Oct 12,13
• Oct 19,20

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So, while the Gauley River can be enjoyed year-round—the canyon offers stunning scenery, fishing, low-water inflatable kayaking throughout the spring and summer—these 23 days are scheduled release days. This means the Army Corp of Engineers releases an agreed-upon amount of water from the base of Summersville Dam, creating ideal water levels for rafting the 26+ miles of whitewater and more than 100 Class III, IV, and V rapids below.

These predictable releases draw in whitewater enthusiasts from all 50 states and multiple countries. Are you ready to join them for the best water levels and top-notch rafting on the Gauley River?

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The Gauley River is a two-part whitewater adventure comprised of the Upper and Lower sections of the Gauley River. However, with many of the most famous rapids—Pillow Rock, Iron Ring, Sweets Falls, and more—crammed into the Upper Gauley, too many rafters overlook the splendor of the Lower Gauley.

The Upper Gauley’s often overshadowed second-half, the Lower Gauley offers stacked Class IV and V rapids plus even greater scenery than the upper section, making it a must on any whitewater lovers list. Plus, it’s more approachable demeanor makes it a great way to start your Gauley River adventures.

For those who are new to West Virginia’s whitewater, we recommend the following progression:

  • The Upper New River – A scenic and fun section ideal family and friends, the Upper New welcomes paddlers as young as 6. It is home to Class II-III rapids and calm pools perfect for games and relaxation.
  • The Lower New River – A favorite among veteran rafters and first-time adrenaline junkies alike, the Lower New has over 25 Class III through V rapids.  As a bonus, this trip finishes up just below the world-famous New River Gorge Bridge
  • The Lower Gauley – One of the most scenic trips you will ever take, the Lower Gauley makes an amazing stand-alone adventure or a great transition from the Lower New River to the Upper Gauley.
  • The Upper Gauley – The most technically challenging and adrenaline-inducing section of river we offer, the Upper Gauley is packed with Class IV and V rapids, making it the ideal challenge for those who have honed their paddling skills on the New River and Lower Gauley.

Want the ultimate whitewater adventure?  Consider the Lower New River one day and then the Marathon (Upper Gauley and then Lower Gauley) the next.

To learn more, please contact one of our Adventure Specialists at 855-379-8738.

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