New River rafting: what it's all about

There’s no need to wait hours in line at an amusement park. Instead, play in the New River, where spine-tingling waves mix with lazy pools.

Meet the New

Some things get better with time, like violins and wine. Whitewater, too— especially if you’re into rafting. In fact, the New River is one of the world’s oldest. Its distinctive rapids and currents have been forming since prehistoric times.
Adding to the fun are two distinct sections: the mild “Upper” and the wild “Lower.” Take your pick. From heart-pounding waves to relaxing pools, the New has rides for everybody.

The Upper

If you’re new to rafting, this makes a wonderful introduction. The “biggest” rapids you’ll face are Class IIIs. In between are calm spots for swimming and floating.
The Upper also takes you through some of the most scenic parts of the New River Gorge. You might learn about towns like Thurmond— a town home to just 6 people. You’ll definitely be provided natural beauty, with picturesque river banks, forests and cliffs.
If you’re feeling daring, try a duckie– an inflatable kayak. You’ll paddle your way through fun Class II-III rapids, with a guide telling you where to go.

The Lower

The gorge gets narrower past Thurmond. Enormous boulders, submerged obstacles and fast moving water create Class IV-V rapids with crashing waves and in-your-face adventure.
Welcome to the Lower. Some of America’s famous rapids swirl here. Wicked crosscurrents, hydraulics and undercut rocks make things even more challenging. But if you seek excitement, this will do! Be prepared for lots of paddling, but don’t worry– the river also has occasional pools, which give you breathers between rapids.
The Lower isn’t just for pros, though. Most trips are suitable for anyone 12 and up. All you need is a craving for adventure.

When to go

Water levels ultimately determine when you can raft. As a rule of thumb, though, the whitewater season lasts April through October.
Still, that’s quite a timeframe. If you’re wondering when to plan that adrenaline fueled vacation, consider going in spring; that’s when snow melt and spring rainfall give the New River higher water levels.
On the other hand, summer has the most options. Overnight rafting trips, complete with camping and BBQ by the river, are especially popular. You can also try the mighty Gauley River or spend multiple days on the New.
Outfitters have trips for every ability and schedule, so why wait? Your summer vacation is waiting in the Gorge.
Have you rafted the New River? If so, what’s your favorite memory?