Gauley River National Recreation Area

Located in the southern part of the Mountain State, the Gauley River National Recreation Area includes 25 miles of the mighty Gauley River and five miles of the Meadow River.

The Gauley River is known for its scenic gorges, valleys and most importantly its class V+ rapids, making it one of the premier whitewater runs in the world. Also, an incredible place for anglers to catch trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and muskellunge, the Gauley River National Recreation Area is the perfect place to connect with nature. Managed by the staff at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve this area is packed with exciting adventure opportunities.

The Beast Of The East: Gauley Season

Each fall, for 23 days, West Virginia is home to some of the greatest whitewater in the country. Scheduled releases from the Summersville Dam create unbelievable rapids on the Gauley River from September through mid-October. Those looking for Class V rapids and beyond can brave the Upper Gauley, where extreme adventure awaits. A milder ride can be found on the Lower Gauley – perfect for explorers who want to take to easy. The intensity of Gauley Season is best enjoyed with an experienced guide leading the way.

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Year-Round Adventure

Though the epic rapids of Gauley Season are only present for a handful of weeks, the Gauley River National Recreation Area is an adventurer’s paradise 12 months out of the year.

Fishing: Avid anglers can enjoy the river’s waters year-round by fishing for trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and muskellunge. For those heading to the river for some catch-and-release fun, public river access points include Gauley Tailwaters, Masons Branch and Woods Ferry. Be sure to get your West Virginia fishing license before heading to the Gauley River National Recreation Area!

Camping: Hoping to pitch a tent in this lush region? Camping is authorized on federally-owned lands within the Gauley River National Recreation Area, though it can be difficult to identify between public and privately-owned property. Campers can find the perfect refuge in the designated primitive camping areas at Gauley Tailwaters, just below the Summersville Dam.

Getting Here

Reaching the Gauley River National Recreation Area is easy! Those flying into Almost Heaven can land at the West Virginia International Yeager Airport in the Capitol city of Charleston before heading 65 miles to Summersville. The main entrance to the area can be reached on US Route 19 south of Summersville and north of Fayetteville, turning onto WV Route 129 towards the Summersville Dam. Three additional public access points are available with parking and boat launches: Mason’s Branch, Wood’s Ferry and Upper Swiss.

Nearby Must-Visit Destinations

As you explore the Gauley River National Recreation Area, you will be just a stone’s throw away from some of West Virginia’s most iconic destinations. Add an extra day to your itinerary and explore these bucket list-worthy stops.

A Historic Waterway

A lush and bountiful area, the Gauley River and its gorge served as hunting and fishing grounds for the Native Americans that called it home for 10,000 years. In the late 1700s, Europeans made their way to the region. More than a century later in 1861, the area was the site of a Civil War battle and is now home to Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park.

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