Suzanne Higgins Published

Thousands Will Ride the World Class Gauley Rapids Beginning This Weekend


Five thousand people on some 500 boats are expected on the Gauley River beginning Friday as the U.S. Corp of Engineers begins drawing down the water levels on Summersville Lake, releasing a thunderous amount of water into the Upper and Lower sections of the Gauley.

The releases will occur during the next 7 consecutive weekends, supporting the local rafting industry and ensuring the river maintains its world class rafting status.

Local rafting outfitter Dave Arnold estimates each rafter will spend about $300 in local communities. 

He says Gauley Fest Weekend, scheduled Sept. 19-22, will have a $1 million dollar impact on the local economy. 

The Gauley River is renowned for its intense rapids that come fast and often,  with 53 of approximately 100 rapids rated Class III and above.

In spring and summer the flows are dependent upon snow melt and precipitation. But in the fall, because of the water release, the 10-mile Upper Gauley features Class IV and V rapids while the 11-mile Lower Gauley rapids range from Class III to V.