FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — West Virginia rafting companies are into the second weekend of the famed Gauley River Rafting Season and longtime river guide Dave Arnold believes this is the weekend which draws the most attention from true whitewater enthusiasts.
“Some people think this is the biggest one of all because this is Gauley Fest weekend,” Arnold said. “All the kayaking people from all around the country area here. There’s a big festival up at Summersville in the town park and there will be probably over a thousand people there.”
Typically, Bridge Day which culminates the Gauley Season draws the most visitors to the area, but Gauley Fest is in Summersville not far from where the adventure starts below Summersville Dam.
“The weather has been perfect. We always get nervous with hurricanes, but the hurricanes didn’t bring a lot of water our way, so we’re in great shape,” Arnold explained. “The lake was full, we’ve got plenty of releases and here’s a new one I can’t explain, but the water temperature is about ten degrees warmer this year and that’s a lot.”
Over the course of the seven weekends of Gauley Season Arnold’s company, Adventures on the Gorge expects to take more than 11,000 people down the Gauley River. Other rafting companies anticipate similar levels and it creates a huge infusion of commerce into Fayette and Nicholas Counties.
“You’re talking 350 employees actively working Saturday to put the show on and that’s just one company, that’s our company,” he explained. “You can imagine what a boost it is to a small town like Fayetteville. This is big.”
Now and then then, depending on how the calendar falls, there is an extra weekend of releases by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This year is one of those extending the season to seven weekends.
Learn more about Gauley Season here.