Water, Water Everywhere: Spring Rafting in the New River Gorge

The flowers are blooming, the ice is melting and the water is flowing — that’s right, it’s spring rafting season in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve! Every year, nature presents rafters with a free adventurous upgrade, better known as high water. The water levels on the New River during this time of year give the river a completely different disposition than what you usually experience in the summer months. In addition to high water levels during the spring, you’ll also be able to snag exclusive deals from our local outfitters and avoid the larger crowds often found in the summer months. Here is everything you need to know about spring rafting in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. 

To book this adventure, check out Adventures on the Gorge.
Check out River Expeditions to book this adventure.
To book this adventure, check out ACE Adventure Resort.

More Water, More Fun

The New River Gorge possesses some of the best whitewater rafting not only in the United States, but in the world. The New River, flowing through an ancient thousand-foot deep gorge, is one of the world’s oldest rivers. The New has two distinct sections: the mild Upper, for laid-back float trips, and the wild Lower, which features quintessential whitewater rapids. 

The Upper New is a great place to start if you are new to rafting or want to enjoy a relaxing trip down the river with your family. In between the Class III rapids, there are calm spots for swimming and floating. This journey will also take you through some of the most scenic parts of the New River Gorge like the historic town of Thurmond. With blossoming spring trees, you’ll be able to catch unique views of the coal mining equipment and old railroad sites as you paddle down the river.  

If you are ready to experience the springtime thrills, then the Lower New is for you! From raging crosscurrents and hydraulics to submerged rocks and obstacles, the Lower is home to the fast-moving water that creates Class II–IV+ rapids. Be prepared for plenty of paddling! But don’t worry, the river also has occasional pools which give you just enough time in between rapids to catch your breath before you are ready to jump back into another one. Most trips are suitable for anyone 12 and up. The Lower section of the river is picturesque, as well. Once you’ve made it through the rapids, you’ll end your trip under the striking New River Gorge Bridge. 

Fewer People, Better Deals  

Unlike traditional adventure activities like amusement rides, there’s no need to wait hours in line here! All you have to do is book a trip with an outfitter and show up at your designated excursion time. To stay in line with safety protocols, trip sizes have been reduced per raft and bus. And since it’s not peak season yet, you’ll be able to avoid crowds on other activities around the Gorge like hiking and dining. You will also be able to find some exclusive deals for your stay! Check with our whitewater outfitters before you book to score savings on your getaway.

Plan Your Trip

Now that we’ve covered the basics of spring rafting, all that is left to do is find a place to stay. From primitive campsites and family-friendly hotels to luxury cabins and delightful bed-and-breakfasts, find the ideal lodging for your trip to the Gorge. 

Typically, rafting season in the Gorge runs from April through October (though, this is ultimately determined by water levels). Cross “whitewater rafting in a national park” off your bucket list this year and start preparing for your once-in-a-lifetime vacation now.