LANSING, W.Va. — The first whitewater rafting trips of 2014 through Adventures On The Gorge will head down the New River in Fayette County this weekend.
David Arnold, managing member of Adventures On The Gorge, said it’s the season for wetsuits.
“The water temperature is in the low 40s so, this time of year, wetsuits are always good,” he said. “We try to keep people in the boats, but that’s never a guarantee with rafting.”
After the Jan. 9 water emergency on the Elk River, Arnold raised concerns about the potential long-term effects the chemical spill could have on tourism throughout West Virginia, even those sites far from the Freedom Industries leak site in Kanawha County.
At least initially, he said early interest shows little impact with initial reports up by an estimated seven percent for Adventures On The Gorge.
This weekend’s first four rafting trips, set for Saturday, will include groups from Morgantown along with those from Cincinnati and Columbus, Oh. and Charlotte, N.C.
“Spring brings high water so it’s Grand Canyon-style water, big waves. This is the time of year when, if you really, really love whitewater, you’re going to be out there,” said Arnold of conditions fed by snowmelt in the mountains and seasonal rains to the south.
In March, Arnold said college students who are on spring break, and not easily deterred by colder water, make up the bulk of their rafting business.
“Once we get into April, the numbers build and by Memorial Day Weekend we are wide open, pedal to the metal,” he said.