CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — It’s September, which means West Virginia white water rafting season is just around the corner. While rafting has been available all summer, peak season on the New River, or Gauley Season, is set to start on Sept. 9.
Each year, beginning after Labor Day, 44 million gallons of water—enough to fill one Olympic-size pool every 10 seconds—are released from the Summersville Dam into the Gauley River 22 times over the season. This causes the river to move at a rate of 50+ mph, creating premier whitewater rafting conditions.
On Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice announced the countdown to Gauley Season has officially begun. In just nine days, the six-week season will begin, and it is expected to bring more than 40,000 people to West Virginia’s only national park, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
“West Virginia’s whitewater is truly something special,” Gov. Justice said. “With Gauley Season quickly approaching, I want to personally invite everyone to come see and experience it for themselves. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime West Virginia adventure you just can’t miss out on.”
This year, the season begins the weekend of Sept. 9 and will run until the weekend of Oct. 15, according to a release from Gov. Justice.
The Upper, Middle and Lower Gauley River make approximately 25 miles of world-class whitewater. The Upper Gauley is best for thrill seekers and includes legendary Big 5 Rapids––Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring and Sweets Falls. Be warned; this steep, fast and technical section is nicknamed the Beast of the East. The Middle Gauley provides a nice, calm reprieve between the Upper and Lower sections and is a great litmus test to decide if you are ready for the Lower. The Lower Gauley shows off scenic cliff lines as well as rapids like Upper Mash and Lower Mash.
Gauley Season 2022 will include 22 scheduled water releases, with an extra hour of release scheduled for Sept. 17 through Sept. 19. To find an adventure that fits your needs, visit the West Virginia Tourism website.
While children as young as 12 can enjoy white water rafting, most Gauley season adventurers must be at least 15 years old, and all participants should be able to swim.