There are some big changes coming to The Dries! This playful section of the New River is getting something that whitewater enthusiasts have been asking for: scheduled water releases that will create exciting rapids!
The History of The Dries
Since 1933, the Hawks Nest Tunnel and Dam has been diverting water from the New River to provide hydroelectric power for Union Carbide’s metals plant in Alloy. This created a nearly 6 mile stretch (from Ansted to Gauley Bridge) where the river has a lower flow of water. This section of river is affectionately called “The Dries,” and organizations like American Whitewater and West Virginia Professional River Outfitters have been longtime supporters for reestablishing flows on this section of the New River. The phrase “Wet the Dries” is well-known in the Gorge because of these groups.
The Dries are known as a “surfer’s paradise” because of the excellent play waves and exciting rapids created when the water levels are higher. On this stretch of river, you can expect class III to IV rapids and scenery that features steep cliffs and tight curves in the river.
Wet The Dries
In the past, whitewater enthusiasts would have to wait for rainfall or snowmelt to raise the river levels, and commercial trips have never been allowed on The Dries. But this year, that all changes.
On select dates in 2019, recreational releases from the Hawks Nest Dam will be allowed, creating a flow of water that’s perfect for whitewater adventures. The scheduled dates are:
March 16 & 17 (alternate dates: March 23, 24, 30 & 31)
June 29 & 30
July 6 & 7
July 13 & 14
July 20 (alternate dates: weekends between July 21 and August 31)
Water released will be between 2,200 and 2,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) and will happen when inflows to the Hawks Nest Dam are between 3,800 cfs and 12,500 cfs.
And even better: you don’t have to be an expert kayaker to enjoy this section of river! Adventures on the Gorge is planning to offer commercial rafting trips on The Dries and you can book your trip now!
Will you play on The Dries this year?