The Gauley River is recognized at one of the top whitewater destinations for rafting enthusiasts. This high intensity water pattern is only available during “release days” of the Summersville Dam. These dates are determined by the US Army Corps of Engineers and lead to an unforgettable rafting experience through the New River Gorge.
The Summersville Dam was built in the 1960’s to hold Summersville Lake. It covers over 2,500 acres and the shoreline is 50+ miles long – making it the largest lake in West Virginia. When the Gauley River is at its highest levels, it is because the release of the dam results in a huge surge of water.
Whitewater during release days on the Gauley is intense. So it is important that only experienced rafters take on the challenge of the Fall Gauley. However, many do – and travel thousands of miles to tackle the Gauley River. Don’t worry – pictures and videos can be taken so you can re-live your experience again and again.
Not sure if you are quite up for rafting of that intensity? There are plenty of other rafting options beyond the Gauley River. If you are a new or nervous rafter, the New River is a great option! This route features a more consistent, easier flow of water with some dips and moments of intensity. This trip also includes plenty of time to simply experience the beauty of nature and the changing of seasons in West Virginia.