Ready for Rafting Season

Spring is right around the corner. Soon, the sun will be shining, the wildflowers will be blooming and everyone will be out on the water! Whether you’re new to rafting or you’ve been doing it for years, there is a trip suitable for all skill levels in the New River Gorge. 

The New River 

Fun fact: The New River isn’t very new at all. Actually, it is one of the world’s oldest rivers with distinct rapids that are well-known by whitewater enthusiasts. The New River is sectioned into two parts: the Upper and the Lower. From relaxing pools of calm water for beginners on the Upper New to adrenaline-pumping rapids for thrill-seekers on the Lower New, this river truly has a ride for everyone. 

The Mild Upper New

Looking for an introduction into rafting? Or a fun day drifting down the river with your family? The Upper New is the trip for you! This mild whitewater experience will give you a relaxing first look at what rafting is all about. With this section only having rapids that range from Class I–III, it’s the perfect spot for swimming and floating. Another gem about this section is that it passes through the historic town of Thurmond, offering some of the most scenic views of the Gorge. The Upper New is suitable for ages 6 and up, making it great for families with children.


The Wilder Lower New

If you want more of a thrill, trade your relaxing float for exhilarating waves and in-your-face excitement on the Lower New. With rapids ranging from Class II–IV+, you’d be prepared for some fast-moving water and lots of paddling! The Lower New gives you just enough time in between rapids to catch your breath before you are thrown back into another one. End your adventure on the Lower New under the picturesque New River Gorge Bridge. Although this is more intense than the Upper New, beginners are still welcome! The Lower New is suitable for adventurers ages 12 and up.

Tips and Tricks 

If this will be your first time down the New River, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your trip! 

  1. Brace yourself in the raft. There’s always the chance you may go for a swim, but if you can keep three points of contact (your bottom, feet and paddle) your chances of staying in the boat increase.
  2. Use all three pieces of equipment to your advantage. Your paddle will help you stay in the raft, your helmet will protect you, and your personal flotation device will keep you afloat if you should happen to fall in. 
  3. Rafting takes some teamwork, so remember to paddle together with the others in your raft. And like every team, rafting has a captain. Make sure to listen to your raft guide as they call out commands to safely get you through the rapids.
  4. Don’t be afraid to get wet. Swimming can be a fun part of the day! Your raft guide is a trained professional and will safely guide you down the river. 
  5. Lastly, have fun! It is easy to forget to have fun in challenging situations, but rafting is a fun and memorable experience.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’re ready to plan your trip! Check out our local outfitters and get a head start. Ultimately determined by water levels, the average rafting season goes from April to October. Coming in the peak season of summer gives you more options like overnight rafting trips that include camping and dinner by the river and more frequent trip times that you can book. But if you are looking for an adrenaline-fueled vacation, plan for a spring rafting trip! High water levels fueled by melted snow and spring rainfall create an unbeatable experience that you will never forget. Bonus: most outfitters run spring specials!

Make it a weekend trip and book a cabin so you can enjoy some of the other adventures the New River Gorge has to offer!