National Geographic Names Whitewater Rafting in the New River Gorge a Top 2024 Travel Adventure

Calling all thrill seekers and outdoor enthusiasts – the New River Gorge has received national recognition for a world-class adventure! Whitewater rafting in West Virginia has been named one of the “20 Coolest Travel Adventures For 2024” by National Geographic. Alongside rafting, the list features other outings like cruising an epic river in Colombia, wandering tea trails in Sri Lanka and gallery-hopping in São Paulo.

This prestigious mention, highlighting the unmatched experience of navigating the scenic river through the breathtaking gorge, comes as no surprise to those who have already braved the excitement of conquering the New River’s rapids.

As National Geographic states, “Despite its name, West Virginia’s New River is actually one of the oldest on Earth, perhaps as old as 360 million years.” This ancient waterway, carving its path through the stunning New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, offers an unforgettable combination of adventure, history and natural beauty.

The New River lives up to its prehistoric legacy. It falls a dramatic 750 feet in just 50 miles, rushing between towering sandstone cliffs until it eventually merges with the Gauley River. As the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachians, the New River Gorge provides a unique backdrop for exploration.

Whether you’re a curious beginner or a seasoned rafter, the New River Gorge has a trip for everyone. The New River has two distinct sections: the mild upper and the wild lower. 

The Upper New

New to rafting or looking for a relaxing family trip? The Upper New is your perfect match. Calm stretches for swimming and floating are spread out between Class I-III rapids, providing a relaxing and scenic journey. Suitable for ages 6 and up, it’s an ideal introduction to whitewater rafting, all while meandering through breathtaking landscapes and offering glimpses of historical gems like the town of Thurmond.

The Lower New

If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, try the Lower New. From raging crosscurrents and hydraulics to submerged rocks and obstacles, the Lower New has fast-moving water that creates Class II–IV+ rapids. This section, catering to experienced rafters and thrill-seekers, is recommended for ages 12 and up. Your Lower New trip ends with a grand finale under the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, creating a lasting memory of your West Virginia rafting experience.

West Virginia Rafting Season

Rafting season typically runs from April to October, with peak season in the summer offering the most options like overnight trips and frequent departures. But for the adventurous, spring holds a different kind of appeal. High water levels present an exhilarating challenge, often at discounted rates. Even the Gauley River, usually reserved for fall, offers a one-of-a-kind whitewater experience for paddlers in the spring and summer months.

Plan Your Whitewater Rafting Trip

Forget amusement park lines! Book a New River Gorge rafting trip with a local outfitter and show up ready for adventure. Extend your getaway by booking a cabin or scenic campsite. Then, explore the region’s diverse offerings – from hiking and mountain biking to rock climbing and ziplining

Whether you choose the serene Upper New or the heart-pounding Lower New, the New River Gorge guarantees an adventure tailored to your taste. Request your free travel guide and start planning your trip today!