Known as “the Beast of the East,” the Gauley River is the ultimate West Virginia rafting experience. Scheduled dam releases bump up the flow on the Gauley and create some of the best whitewater rapids on the East Coast. Split into an Upper and Lower section, the Gauley offers rafting options for both seasoned vets and those with less experience.

There are five weeks of 4-day releases; during the last week water is only released on Saturday and Sunday. Even though the season lasts only 22 days, over 40,000 people raft the river during that short span.

The Gauley River has over 60 Class III or higher rapids on its 25 miles, making it one of the most popular whitewater destinations in the world. Much like the New River, it’s easiest to learn the Gauley as an “Upper” and “Lower” section, but while the New River’s Lower section is more intense than the Upper, the Gauley is the exact opposite. 

The Upper Gauley is not for the faint of heart. The Upper Gauley River’s claim to fame are the “Big 5,” it’s 5 class V rapids. While challenging, it’s also one of the most thrilling adventures in our area. 

The Lower Gauley may be “easier,” but it’s no float trip. The Lower has miles of Class III-IV rapids that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. If you’re feeling up for it, you can run both the Upper and Lower Gauley — a full day on the water! 

Common misconceptions will lead you to believe the Gauley is only for the pros and only fun in the fall, but our featured outfitters are ready to prove otherwise if you’re ready to give it a run!