Whitewater raftingWest Virginia is home to the highest density of whitewater runs in the country. From family-fun to wild adventure, there is a river for you in Almost Heaven. Are you looking to meander through nature and catch the magnificent sights? Whether it’s a half-day experience or an extended journey, there is a river waiting for you. Regardless of your experience, you can explore any of the many rapids from Class I to Class V.
Find Your River
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
Get the chance to raft in America’s newest National Park and Preserve. The New River Gorge is the most popular whitewater destination in West Virginia. To beat the summer heat and get your fair share of adrenaline, try a rafting trip on the Lower New River, or chill out on the Upper New with relaxing float trips through a meandering river. You don’t have to be an expert to try this outdoor adventure. Many outfitters in the area provide guided trips with rafts, paddles, helmets and lifejackets included (some even provide lunch!)
Gauley River National Recreation Area
During the fall you will find no other rafting experience like the Gauley River. Travel down the narrow 25 miles of canyon line facing the 100 rapids featuring deep drops and huge waves. There is a good reason the Upper Gauley is called the Beast of the East. Travelers from around the world come here to experience the river between September and October. Find out for yourself by rafting down the famous big 5 rapids that claim the whitewater rating of Class V.
Located in the heart of Mountaineer Country and only an hour from Pittsburgh, the Cheat River is a popular whitewater rafting destination, particularly in the spring and summer months. The Cheat River has two distinct whitewater sections for all your paddling needs. Looking for something mild? Check out the Cheat Narrows. Something wild? Head over to the 13-mile section of the river called Cheat Canyon. The steep walled canyon is a unique backdrop in the mountains of Appalachia. Since the Cheat is undammed and flows naturally, each day can provide a different experience.
The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge to offer impressive rafting opportunities in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Here you’ll find Class I-III rapids amid the rich history of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. This area is great for beginner and intermediate paddlers, as well as those seeking a thrill and looking for some history to boot.
How to Start
Find one of the various whitewater outfitters in West Virginia that can provide the best experience for you. Regardless of your interests there is an outfitter to fit your needs. The first step is choosing the Almost Heaven spot you want to visit. Then find an outfitter in the area. Each outfitter will be able to find the best trip for you.
What to Bring
Your gear list is always going to vary on the weather, time of year, and Almost Heaven destination. If you are traveling with friends or a local guide, it is always best to consult them on specific gear needs. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, here’s a helpful list that outlines gear almost every adventurer needs.
- Swimsuit or clothes that can get wet
- Sneakers or Sandals with a heel strap
- Dry change of clothes
- A water bottle with extra water
- A rain jacket in case of rainy days
- Insect repellent
There is no clear best season for whitewater. The best time to go depends on the water levels. The most reliable season to go is in the spring (Mid-March through early June) when there is a lot of rainfall. That does not mean you cannot beat the heat during the summer. The New and Shenandoah can be great during the summer months. The Gauley River is best to run during the fall season. Remember to check the water levels before your trip.
Featured Outfitters by River
New and Gauley Rivers
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.
River Expeditions, a family-owned and operated outfitter, has been guiding folks down the river since 1972. Take advantage of horseback riding, zipline tours, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and paintball on site. Or book a scenic float trip along a mellow section of the New River with one of the plethora of boutique outfitters in the area.
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 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.
5 Dos and 5 Don’ts of Whitewater Rafting
Rafting is an unforgettable experience the whole family can enjoy, even young ones. These 10 guidelines will help you as you get ready to h...Read More
22 things you didn't know about the legendary Gauley River
One of the best whitewater destinations in the world is right here in the West Virginia mountains. Have you heard of the Gauley River? It...Read More
Ready for Whitewater Rafting at ACE Adventure?
After the chilliest of winters, get ready to ring in the springtime with ACE Adventure Resort. Strap on your life jacket, tighten up your ...Read More
OUTDOOR EXPLORER: How to Become an Upper Gauley Raft Guide
By Kirby Simeon, Outdoor Explorer When people come to southern West Virginia to raft the famous Upper Gauley River, one of the most commo...Read More
Helpful Hints for the First-Time Whitewater Rafter
Shenandoah, Cheat, or New-- no matter which river you're on in Almost Heaven, you'll be having a wild and wonderful time rafting. Here are ...Read More
6 Incredible Almost Heaven whitewater rivers and how to experience them
Among many attractions, West Virginia offers visitors some of the most incredible whitewater rafting in the world. Since 1968, rafters have...Read More
50 Facts to Celebrate 50 Years of Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the whitewater rafting industry in West Virginia. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, whitewate...Read More
4 must-try experiences in the New River-Greenbrier Valley Region
The New River Gorge region is home to some of the best West Virginia experiences. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to decide whic...Read More
11 wild teambuilding retreats for school & youth groups
Take your youth group to the mountains for some wild, wonderful team building. Nothing brings a group closer than overcoming challenges ...Read More