Adventure Blog

Is West Virginia Known for Whitewater Rafting?

Lower Gauley River Whitewater Rafting Adventures on the Gorge

West Virginia is known for her mountains, her kind people, and (of course) her pepperoni rolls. But West Virginia is also known for whitewater rafting. With trips for the littlest of littles to those seeking the thrill of the lifetime, there’s a good reason that West Virginia is known for whitewater rafting.

There are very few places in the world where you can find so much incredible whitewater (and with guaranteed flows) than the New River Gorge Region in West Virginia. Since the 1970s, whitewater has been run commercially on the New River, with the Gauley River being added to the mix later.

The Lower New River

The New River Gorge is comprised of two sections, the Upper New River and the Lower New River. The Lower New River is the section that most people think of when they think “West Virginia Whitewater.” This 7 mile (when rafted from Cunard to Fayette Station) stretch of whitewater is known as a “drop pool river”, meaning between each rapid, there are pools where rafters can swim and enjoy calm water. The rapids on this section are Class III-V. You’ll travel through the heart of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, with iconic views of the Endless Wall and the New River Gorge Bridge. This trip is what put whitewater on the map for our state and is one of the catalysts in West Virginia being known for Whitewater Rafting. 

The Upper New River

The Upper New River is the whitewater rafting trip for families and timid first time rafters. Kids as young as six can take on the Upper New River, where they’ll be treated to splashy waves, jump rock, and plenty of river games to keep them smiling. This trip has rapids ranging from Class II-III, with just enough thrills to keep even the most adventurous kids talking about their awesome day on the river for weeks to come.

The Upper Gauley River

Upper Gauley River Whitewater Rafting Adventures On The Gorge

The Upper Gauley River is synonymous with adventure. This trip is the whitewater of legends. Huge whitewater featuring 5 Class V rapids descend through the Gauley canyon, with big drops, boulders, and waves creating a trip to remember is this remote river section. The Gauley River is a dam release river. During the summer months, the river is dammed to create another recreational paradise, Summersville Lake. But, for 6 weekends in September and October, the gates are opened on the dam creating what we call “Gauley Season”. West Virginia is known for this trip, where people travel from across the country to raft the Upper Gauley River.

The Lower Gauley River

While West Virginia is known for whitewater rafting, it’s also known for scenic vistas. The Lower Gauley River is all the best things about whitewater rafting in West Virginia. This section is calmer than the Upper Gauley, but with no shortage of thrills in the form of roller coaster waves. The thing that really makes the Lower Gauley a trip to remember is the incredible views, arguably some of the best in a state with plenty of Instagramable locations. Here, the only way to experience these views is by traveling by raft or kayak, making it a true wilderness voyage. 

At Adventures on the Gorge, we have the guides and know-how to take you rafting on the rivers that make West Virginia whitewater rafting so special. Experience an adventure to remember in Almost Heaven.

Lower New Whitewater Rafting

Minimum Age: 12

Lower New River Whitewater Rafting Rapid Run Adventures On The Gorge
The Lower New River Whitewater Rafting trip is a favorite for first-timers and enthusiasts! Your adventure begins on the banks of one of the world’s oldest rivers, where north-flowing, bubbly waters have spent millions of years carving through the Appalachian Mountains to create what is now the beautiful New River Gorge. This section of the river steps up the pace with 25 rapids ranging from Class II-IV, and in between the biggest rapids you’ll get the chance to enjoy calm pools where you can float freely. If water levels allow, we’ll even make a stop at our favorite jump rock!
Upper New Whitewater Rafting

Minimum Age: 6

Upper New
Our Upper New Whitewater Rafting trip is the place for families! This full day trip travels through the Upper New River, part of the New River Gorge National Park. Rafters can choose between a single or double inflatable kayak, or choose to raft with a guide. Either way, you and your group will enjoy river games, a riverside lunch, and memories to last a lifetime.

The Upper New River is a great place for a family raft trip, beginners wanting a relaxed river experience, or for scouts and youth groups to get their feet wet in the majestic and breathtakingly scenic New River Gorge.
Upper Gauley Whitewater Rafting

Minimum Age: 15

Upper Gauley River Whitewater Rafting Adventures On The Gorge
The Upper Gauley River is the epitome of whitewater excitement! Consistently ranked one of the top five rivers to raft in the world and one of the top three in the country, it is the “Whitewater of Legends” and known for it’s high-volume, technical whitewater. This adventure is recommended for experienced rafters who are ready for an intense challenge–one that will demand all of your paddling power as you drop over 335 feet in less than 12 miles. After running all of the Big Five Rapids, you’ll take a breather and enjoy a riverside lunch before tackling more Class IV rapids. If this isn’t your first rodeo and you’re wanting high adventure, look no further than a full day on the Upper Gauley.

Lower Gauley Whitewater Rafting

Minimum Age: 12

Lower Gauley River Whitewater Rafting Adventures On The Gorge
Made for daring first-timers and New River enthusiasts wanting a taste of the world-famous Gauley, this trip will take you down 12 miles of the Lower Gauley surrounded by the beautiful West Virginia scenery the entire way. This trip is an immersive challenge that demands full participation of everyone on board, so get ready to paddle! You’ll raft thrilling, Class V rapids like “Heaven’s Gate” and “Pure Screaming Hell.” Between the rapids, we’ll enjoy a hot lunch and some riverside relaxation at Canyon Doors–the most stunning spot on this epic river.

If you want to experience everything we have to offer, please call one of our adventure specialists.

Newsletter Signup