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.”