Fall in southern West Virginia brings cooler temperatures and beautiful colors. But that’s not the only thing that gets us excited about autumn around here.
It also brings some extreme whitewater. That’s right: Gauley Season.
The fall draw down of the water in Summersville Lake makes the Gauley River premier whitewater for thrill seekers from all over.
What Is Gauley Season?
Every fall the Gauley River near Summersville, WV becomes a playground for adrenaline junkies. The Army Corps of Engineers controls the scheduled release of water from Summersville Dam and enables folks to raft 25 miles of world-class whitewater.
These releases of water are coordinated to allow whitewater outfitters to schedule 22 days of trips down two distinctly different stretches of the Gauley River. Trips start at the base of the Summersville Dam and end near the small town of Swiss.
The releases are scheduled from Friday through Monday (starting the Friday after Labor Day). There are five weeks of 4-day releases; during the last week water is only released on Saturday and Sunday. Even though the season lasts only 22 days, over 40,000 people raft the river during that short span.
Why It’s The Best. Seriously.
- The Gauley can be rafted by just about any level of paddler. The lower stretch of this river is a great Class IV run with rapids that have lots of waves and holes to challenge and excite paddlers. This 14-mile trip is a great way to have some fun and find out if you are ready to tackle the upper section of the river.
- The upper section of the Gauley, from the dam to about 10 miles downstream, is where this river really gets its reputation. Dropping at an average of almost 70 feet per mile, the Upper Gauley provides Class V whitewater around almost every bend. There are five Class V rapids on this section and they have been known to humble even the toughest whitewater veterans.
- In all, the Gauley has over 60 Class III or better rapids on its 25 miles of whitewater. You’ll be hard pressed to find that much whitewater on any other river anywhere. Period.
Gauley season starts now. Come and see why it is rated one of the top rivers in the world.