Are you looking for a kayaking destination in West Virginia, America’s best whitewater paradise? Look no further, the New and Gauley Rivers should be in your top 10 wish list. Besides, there are several other class IV/V rivers to navigate.   

Whitewater enthusiasts have a reason to smile. The rivers offer some of the best paddling experiences for both newbie and experienced rafters. As the two rivers cascade to each other towards the confluence, paddlers are presented with new opportunities from the mountain state.   

You’re guaranteed reliable water flow to paddle your kayak. The dams discharge its waters into the rivers causing pleasantly warm water for rafting. Besides, there is no snowmelt to disrupt your routine kayaking. 

It was once described as pool drop nature offering a momentous session to kayak between the rapids. The New River is the big boy found nowhere on the west coast.   

The best places to Kayak New and Gauley Rivers are located in the Southern section of West Virginia. Here, the two rivers join in the Town of Gauley Bridge forming the Kanawha that flows into the Ohio River.


The New River

This is the longest river of the two with the high waves and power. The source starts in the Appalachians western North Carolina, it flows northwards about 320 miles through Southern Virginia to West Virginia. 

Kayakers touring West Virginia do have a variety of experiences. If you want to have a Kayak fishing expedition, the upper section of the river provides the best spot with a variety of fish. Besides, its calmer ad provides perfect waves for beginners’ kayakers.

In the contrast, the middle section of the river offers high rapids and a more adventurous journey for moderators and newbies Kayakers who want to venture into medium waves for the first time. 

The lower section of the new river provides the perfect opportunity for white-water Kayaking enthusiasts. 

As you Kayaker down the river, you have the opportunity to pass through the old coal camps which hosted thousands of people during the coal mining bubble.

To experience class III rapids, head to the lower New from Cunard to Fayette Station. This section has eighteen rapids of class III. Other areas of interest include Kenney’s both upper, middle, and lower part, Fayette Station, and the Double Z  Others have found favorable surfing sections of the river to be Greyhound Bus Stopper, Lower Railroad, and Bloody Nose in Miller’s Folly


The Gauley River

It draws rafters from across North America and the world at large and “have earned the intriguing (and intimidating) sobriquet “the

Beast of the East,” 

The river has its source in the Monongahela National Forest, adjoining the Virginia border, and travel for about 105 miles before connecting with the New.

However, a 10-mile stretch flows below impoundment at Summersville Lake. This section is known as the Upper Gauley that provides the main attraction to the outdoor fanatic.

“Excitement really builds with the arrival of Labor Day weekend: For the next six weekends, the Army Corp of Engineers ramps up water releases expressly to make the upper Gauley a white-water wonderland. Those in the know refer to this shoulder period bridging summer and autumn as “Gauley Season.” “Like the New”

To enjoy the big water, venture into the upper section of the river Gauley which gets the most attention from Kayakers and other paddlers. However, the lower sections to provide something for nature lovers. Here, your kayaks will float past huge boulders with canyon walls climbing three hundred feet.

The upper section of Gauley is fast-paced and is suitable for experienced kayakers who can withstand the high water speed without flipping their boats. With high speed, you don’t stand a chance to have a glimpse at most of the sceneries. Therefore, it is not the best section to enjoy your kayaking outing.

To experience Class III or greater waves, head to the Upper Gauley section of the river with twenty-nine rapids waves. 

What to expect are the Big Five,” five Class V rapids, Pillow; Lost Paddle; Iron Ring; and Sweet’s falls

The cons

It takes about 8 – 10 hours’ drive from the major cities in the northeast and southeast to reach the rivers. The long journey has deterred many aspiring and experienced kayakers to regularly have a date with the two rivers. But, the beauty of visiting the vicinity is that you can kayak the two rivers at the same time.

Best Time to Visit Kayak New and Gauley Rivers

As a paddler, you must know when to venture into the new territories to enjoy the breeze. Making a visit at the wrong time will cost you money and time. 

The best time to cruise the New river is at its highest pick during spring through October. While the Gauley River is at its prime from September through October.

How to Get There:

“Most visitors will fly into Charleston, West Virginia, which is served by a number of carriers. From here, it’s roughly ninety miles to the river hubs.”


There are several companies offering various paddling services and products on the New and Gauley Rivers. Besides Kayaking. For example, River Expeditions owed RICK JOHNSON, and his wife, Heather, is one of West Virginia’s largest white-water rafting outfitters on the New and Gauley Rivers. The company has operated since 1996 offering state of the art services for the tourism industry.     

(800-463-9873; www.raftinginfo.com).

Level of Difficulty: There are sections of the two rivers that beginners can venture into with guides, however, if you are not familiar with the locality, it is advisable to seek the services of a guide. But, the most season and experienced paddlers can kayak by themselves in New or Gauley River without any difficulties.

Accommodations: River Expeditions offers a variety of lodging options;

West Virginia Division of Tourism (800-225-5982; www.wvtourism.com). Besides, there are other varieties to choose from base on your pocket ad test. 

You can share your experience with us, your high and low moments while voyaging the rivers.

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