West Virginia is among the best outdoor playgrounds in the east. The state offers beautiful rivers in mountainous terrain. The combination is some wild and wonderful whitewater rafting. The Gauly River is considered to be one of the top whitewater rivers in the world. The New and the Cheat offer some pretty demanding class 4 and class 5 rapids as well. This article was going to focus on North America, however West Virginia holds enough Whitewater options for a fun rafting vacation.
The Gauley River
The Gauley River located near Fayetteville, West Virginia is especially sought out during the Fall Gauley season in September and October when the dams are opened. According to WVBridgeday.com the river’s “challenging rapids and scenic beauty have earned the Gauley River the rank of the world’s seventh most popular whitewater rafting rivers.” The river is world class enough to host “the Ninth Annual World Rafting Championships” in 2001. The river drops “more than 668 feet through a 28-miles gorge.”
The New River
The New River is located close to the Gualey River and Fayetteville, West Virginia. I recommend the lower New River, which has more level 3 and 4 rapids. It also has some 4 plus rapids. The Upper New River has less difficult rapids. The rafting area is in a beautiful mountain canyon setting on one of the oldest rivers in America.
The Cheat River
The Cheat River located close to Morgantown, West Virginia. The options appear to be a section called the Cheat Canyon and Cheat Narrows. The Canyon “is a premier Spring whitewater run with over 30 rapids Class III or better.” Some of those or better reach a category V. The Narrows is lower rapids and more family friendly. The area is a stunning wilderness area with breathtaking views. A bonus river in nearby Maryland would be the Upper Youghiogheny boasting class V rapids.
The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers
The Potomac River is technically Maryland and forms the border between Maryland and West Virginia. Riverriders.com describes the whitewater experience on the Shenandoah and Potomac as “exciting trip is for everyone: beginners to seasoned guests! (Class I-III – sometimes Class I-II+)” However, they do offer scenic views and a historic view as the rafts pass by the city of Harpers Ferry.