FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — An already incredible year for the West Virginia whitewater rafting industry just got better.

“I’ve rafted New River for 40 years and I can’t remember a year this good,” said Dave Arnold, Managing Member of Adventures West Virginia Resort. “We have had an unbelievable amount of water.  We have not seen below two and a half feet above normal levels on the New all year long.”

Mother Nature is responsible for the incredible New River rafting season, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be thanked for the bonus. Typically the Gauley River rafting season is the bread and butter for most outfitters. This year the season will arrive with Summersville Lake still at full summer pool and the Corps plans to pull an additional 55 feet of water to inspect the spillways at the bottom of the dam.

The Corps will release 2,800 cubic feet per second on the regular schedule each weekend starting September 6-9. The regular releases will continue each weekend through October 20.  However, the Corps is adding supplemental week day release of 2,800 cfs for September 17, September 24, and October 1. To further enhance the appetite for thrill seekers, they’ll turn it up to 5,000 cfs September 18-19, September 25-26, and October 2-3.

Arnold said the 5,000 cfs days will make the often neglected Lower Gauley a rafter’s paradise.

“If you put the Lower Gauley in any state in the union it would be a great river, it’s just that the Upper Gauley overpowers it for quality white water,” said Arnold. “When they release over 5,000 cfs, it’s going to make the Lower Gauley an incredible trip.”

Arnold’s company won’t run the Upper Gauley on those 5,000 cfs days. He said the experience would be too intense and parts of the river can become too risky to run on commercial trips.

Still, it’s an incredible bonus to what has been a tremendous whitewater year in West Virginia.

“We think it’s a huge win,” Arnold said. “They did a really good job of making these releases fit where people could use them.”

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  • Cory Boothe

    Summersville Dam was constructed and routinely drawn down years before rafting became a reality on the Gauley River. Not to mention, thousands of pounds of trout are put in the Gauley River by those "hippie" rafters.

    How are you losing the ability to fish? Currently, boat ramps are still open?

  • Larry

    Tevas, dudes with pony tails, cutoffs, and home made braded cord bracelets and necklaces, now that's livin'

  • Tim C

    Summerville draws down 2 months earlier than most of the other lakes in the state. Bluestone for example draws down beginning Nov. 1. This gives fishermen those prime extra 2 months to fish. I have nothing against the rafters but the fishing suffers to accommodate the rafting season.

  • Tim C

    I don't want to take Earl Ray's side here, but he has a point. Our in-state fishermen lose the ability to fish in the lake due to the massive draw down during two of the prime fishing months of the year in favor of the out of state rafters.

    • Shadow

      It may come as a surprise to you but the dams in WV weren't built to accommodate fishermen or rafters.

    • G Mann

      The drawn down happens whether or not people are rafting the river. It's done for a variety of reasons but mainly to catch the winter snow run off.

      I live in the Lake Norman area just north of Charlotte. They draw our lake down to a winter pool as well as the other lakes above and below. In our lake's case it's primarily done so that we don't wake up one morning as crispy critters do to flooding screwing up the reactors at the nuclear plant. Which brings me to believe they should build more coal-fired plants.

      • Lisa

        heeheee!! :)

  • tomblin

    Earl Ray --- mentioned "hippies", well last time I was on the river w/ commercial company--which was just today 8/25---I personally witnessed a "hippie" per boat---that was guide.j...... The other 6 to 8 people per boat were from out state enjoying WV and spending money on food, gas, gifts, lodging and of course recreation. So Earl Ray's Mister Twister all twisted up.........

  • Woodchuck

    This is great news for a lot of people.

    Can the Army Corps subsidize me $100,000 extra to help out for the year.

    More global warming will help. That's why we have had a cold wet summer. Right?

    • Al G

      Yup. That's pretty much it.

  • Erin

    It is not killed just for us hippies and the $$, that is a bonus. If you pay attention to the article you just read, they are inspecting the spillway. They also lower the levels to accommodate for rain and snow melt. That comes with our beautiful WV fall and winter seasons.

    • Gaaaaauuuuley!

      It's like Forrest Gump says Erin, "stupid is as stupid does". Pay no attention to the likes of Earl Ray. He's probably glued to the TV watching Fox News Channel all day long and doesn't know any better.

      The former citizens of Gad, who had to give up their homes to build the lake, are truly the only people with a right to complain about anything dealing with the dam. And to add insult to injury for these poor folks, unlike most communities lost to damns and lakes, Gad obviously had to sacrifice its being name attached to the dam.

      Hence, Summersville Lake.

      • Brian

        Just as a bit of trivia, had Summersville followed the traditional naming convention of naming the lake and dam after the nearest town, we'd be stuck with Gad Dam, West Virginia. Who would have wanted that!

      • Larry

        No he's not, he's busy being the governor.

  • Earl Ray

    I hate it when they kill Summersville Lake for the stinking hippies and their $$.