• rafters paddling through whitewater

    Gauley River

    National Recreation Area West Virginia

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get there?

Located in southern West Virginia, the Gauley River National Recreation Area is between Summersville Dam and Swiss, WV. Access is via WV Route 129, off US Route 19. The closest airports are at Beckley and Charleston, WV.

How big is the park?

The park encompasses 11,495 acres of land, and includes 25.5 miles of the Gauley River and 5.5 miles of the Meadow River. There are currently 4,092 acres in NPS ownership.

What is there to do?

Visitors and local residents enjoy fishing, hunting, kayaking and whitewater rafting.

What is the difficulty level of the Gauley River for whitewater boating?

The Gauley is a river of alternating rapids and pools. The rapids are complex and challenging ranging from Class 4-5+. Guide books stress that this river should not be attempted without a high degree of skill and confidence. Even then it is best to undertake this trip only when accompanied by someone who has previous experience on the Gauley River. Several outfitters offer guided whitewater rafting trips. Most request that guests have previous rafting experience.

Where can I watch rafters and boaters on the river?

From mid-September to mid-October, thousands of people are riding the whitewater on the Gauley River. These trips can be viewed from the launch point at the Summersville Dam tailwaters area, located off WV Route 129.

Where should I stay?

The State of West Virginia has a toll-free phone number that provides you with information on accommodations and service throughout the state. The number is 1-800-CALLWVA.

Where can I camp?

The Gauley River National Recreation Area does not maintain any full service campgrounds. Primitive sites are available at the Summersville Dam tailwaters area. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers runs a full-service campground at Battle Run on Summersville Lake.

Did You Know?

View of Gauley River gorge

The Gauley River has cut a gorge of up to 500 feet deep in places. Within the gorge, the river is characterized by alternating pools and rapids with torrential water, boulders and exposed bedrock.