This West Virginia River Transforms for Six Weeks Every Fall

West Virginia is home to some of the finest whitewater rafting found anywhere in the world. Thousands of people flock to the New River every year in seek of thrill and adventure, but it is the Gauley River that launches into the spotlight every Fall.

Unlike most rivers in the world, the Gauley River is fed by the man-made Summersville Lake. Throughout the summer, the Summersville Lake is one of the most popular attractions in the state for recreation, but as Fall approaches, the lake is partially drained to prepare for Winter rain and snow. Beginning on the Friday after Labor Day, water is released from the lake and fed into the Gauley River. The releases continue for six weeks and create what we now know as “Gauley Season.”

The Gauley is not for the casual rafter. Much of the river features Class V rapids, which are some of the toughest to navigate. Along the world-class river, rafters can expect to encounter Pillow Rock, Insignificant, Lost Paddle, Sweet’s Falls, and Iron Ring rapids. These rapids are some of the most famous in the world – and some of the most challenging.

However, this challenge is what attracts so many to West Virginia during Gauley Season. Between these Class V rapids are many Class III and IV portions. For many, these rapids offer a moment to recover and prepare for the next set of rapids ahead. The river drops over 335 feet in a span of 13 miles and is an adrenaline-packed adventure for those who accept its challenge!

Outfitters like Adventures on the Gorge, ACE Adventure Resort, and River Expeditions offer packages to run the Gauley from September through the end of October. Fall is right around the corner so make your way to the New River Gorge and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!

Are you up for the challenge?

Discover More Whitewater Rafting

This post was last updated on March 17, 2022