Plan Ahead: A Whitewater Rafting Getaway

West Virginia is home to the highest density of whitewater runs in the country. From family-fun to thrilling adventure, here, there is a river for everyone. Meander through nature while catching magnificent mountain views. The rapids of Almost Heaven are suitable for a wide range of experiences from Class I to Class V.

The best time to go depends on the water levels of the river. However, spring (Mid-March through early June) is typically the most reliable season to raft due to high amounts of rainfall. Rafting trips continue to run throughout the summer, and even into the fall, so be sure to check with outfitters before scheduling a trip.

Wonderful for Beginners

Explore America’s newest National Park and Preserve by rafting through the state’s most popular whitewater destination, New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. Beat the summer heat with a relaxing family float on the Upper. There’s no need to be an expert, outfitters in this area provide guided tours and equipment.

Located only one hour from Pittsburgh, the Cheat River is another whitewater rafting destination that’s particularly popular in the spring and summer months. The Cheat Narrows is a great option for families with children age seven and older. Experience miles of whitewater on this trip, which will provide you with gorgeous scenery and fun in the water.

The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge offering impressive rafting opportunities in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Experience Harpers Ferry National Historical Park while rafting some whitewater waves. It’s a great way to add a little adventure into your educational tour of one of West Virginia’s most historic areas.

Truly Wild Whitewater

For Class IV and V rapids, look no further than the New and Gauley rivers. The Lower New River provides adrenaline-pumping rafting trips all summer long. Beginning the weekend after Labor Day, Summersville Lake is partially drained into the Gauley River – creating world-class rapids that attract rafters from around the world.

This annual occurrence is referred to as “Gauley Season,” and is one of the most sought-after events on the East Coast. Area outfitters offer exclusive packages for Gauley Season. These packages are only offered September through October, so don’t miss your chance to raft down what many consider “The Beast of the East.” To experience the famous “Gauley Season,” head to the Gauley River in the fall months where fiery foliage lines the river to create an epic excursion with fall color views you have to see to believe.

Let a Local Outfitter Lead the Way

ACE Adventure Resort is located on 1,500 wooded acres adjacent to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. While it offers incredible whitewater trips, ACE Adventure Resort also boasts zipline tours, rock climbing, mountain biking, lodging & camping, plus a waterpark.

Nearby Adventures on the Gorge combines industry expertise with a deep enthusiasm for adventure, making it a vacation you want to experience. Here, try horseback riding, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, rock climbing, an adventure park, and of course, whitewater rafting.

Cheat River Outfitters has everything you need for your whitewater experience. Book a guided tour, complete with a riverside lunch, with your friends and family. Along with trips down the Cheat Canyon, they also offer tours of the Cheat Narrows, where you can expect clear water, giant boulders and beautiful scenery.

River Riders is a family-focused outfitter that not only offers rafting trips, but tubing, ziplining and an aerial adventure park with nine aerial forest challenge trails all varying in difficulty. If you’re up for an adventure, try whitewater kayaking, where you’ll get even closer to rapids. At the end of the day, rest up in one of their rental homes or pitch a tent at a waterfront campground.

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This post was last updated on March 29, 2022