2018 Letter to Gauley River Boaters
The rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area welcome you to the 2018 boating season. National Park Service (NPS) employees have been working, and are continuing to work, on preparing the put-ins and take-outs, roads, and other public use spots for upcoming Gauley River National Recreation Area (NRA) visitation. We hope that this season will prove to be a safe and spectacular one for every one.
The put-ins and take-outs and the Tailwaters campground will operate much like in the past with few changes.
At Masons Branch, parking is limited and fills to capacity nearly every boating day. The access road will be closed when the parking lot fills up. American Whitewater continues to lease the Legg field above Mason’s Branch. The field will be available throughout the Gauley season for private boater parking when the available parking below fills up. The walking trail from the river to the field has been checked and is clear of fallen trees and obstructions for those walking or carrying boats uphill to their car parked in the field. Like in the past, the rangers plan on opening Mason’s Branch access road for unrestricted travel sometime in the afternoon, probably around 1 pm, or whenever the bulk of commercial bus traffic is through for the day.
Parking at Wood’s Ferry will be managed like it has in the past with few restrictions. Boaters are asked to park close together in an organized fashion to take advantage of all the available space and to create parking opportunities for others. Wood’s Ferry fills to capacity on some weekends. Boaters should be aware that this may happen again on particularly busy days and that parking is available but not unlimited. The upstream end of Wood’s Ferry is used for dropping off and picking up boats and gear and not for parking during the day. Unattended vehicles parked at the upstream end will be towed.
The public take-out at upper Swiss is the only lower Gauley public take-out within the recreation area. Parking is available to boaters in the field. The parcel, both the field and boat launch remain closed to camping. The park offers camping opportunities at the Tailwaters campground and there are other private and public campgrounds in the area.
A commercial shuttle service operating under a permit from the NPS will again be available this Gauley season for all of your shuttling needs on both the New and Gauley Rivers. To check it out or arrange for a shuttle, contact Hills to Hills Tours and Shuttle at https://www.hillstohills.com/ or call 681-220-1146. This shuttle service is the only one with NPS approval to operate commercially within the park. Boaters should beware of other shuttle services charging fees, without a permit in place, and otherwise operating in violation of park regulations.
Camping at the Gauley Tailwaters campground is free of charge and is on a first come, first served basis. There is a maximum of 8 people allowed in each campsite. There is a 2 tent, 2 vehicle maximum at each site. Quiet hours are from 10pm to 6am in the campground. Rangers will provide patrols, will register each campsite, and will enforce camping regulations. Campers who bring their pets are asked to keep their pets on a leash.
NPS river patrol operations will continue as in the past. The NPS provides daily river patrols during the scheduled releases with an emphasis on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and rescue. The NPS river ranger patrol boat carries an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) in addition to other medical supplies. They are available to provide both routine and emergency boater services as they arise. Additionally, river patrol rangers are continuing to work with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the WV Division of Natural Resources, Norfolk Southern Railroad, our aeromedical helicopter services, our local ambulance providers, our local fire departments, commercial rafting companies, landowners, and others to pre-plan and prepare for boater safety.
Park Rangers and local emergency personnel may request a reduction of the scheduled water release from Summersville Dam in the event of an emergency. To help prevent boaters from being surprised by the sudden and unexpected drop in water level, NPS river rangers will implement a sign and signal flag program to provide visual aids along the river in the event of an emergency. The press release will be posted on the American Whitewater and Gauley River NRA website.
In addition to Gauley season planning, the NPS is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of approximately 305 acres of land on both sides of the Gauley River. The new land tract is situated on both river right and left from roughly the Iron Curtain area just downstream of Insignificant to just above Sweet’s Falls. This important conversion of private land to the public domain protects the rugged, scenic, and natural qualities of the river and view sheds at Pillow Rock, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring, and more.
As our Gauley season planning efforts progress, we will post information on this web page as well as continuing to communicate with private boaters through partnering organizations such as American Whitewater. For this season as in the past, we appreciate all of the boater public cooperation that helps to make the Gauley boating season safe, exciting, and memorable for everyone.
Last updated: August 24, 2018