Friday, April 6, 2012
New River, West Virginia
That’s because the New’s big rapids, inspiring scenery, and long stretches of churning water make it one of the East’s premier rafting rivers, arguably the most popular of a legion of exciting whitewater venues stretching from Maryland to Georgia. The New is nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, one of a half-dozen rafting rivers in the state. The steep mountain gradients that spawn these cascading rivers make the area a mecca for eastern river runners (as well as skiers at nearby Snowshoe and Canaan Valley).
Rafters can choose two options from the New’s fifty miles of whitewater; the scenic upper section, a mild float down languid pools and gentle Class II rapids; or the kick-butt lower section, a five-hour run through major Class III, IV, and V drops. There is no time to get your sea legs on the lower New; this 15-mile run baptizes you immediately with a series of rapids that will definitely focus your attention. The lower section has five Class V runs, the best of which is the Keeneys, a series of harrowing rapids that drops over 30 feet in a quarter mile.
DETAILS: The New River is about 30 miles southeast of Charleston, near the town of Beckley. More than twenty outfitters service the New. A couple of notable ones are Mountain River Tours, 800-822-1386 and USA Raft, 800-USA-RAFT. Rafting season runs from March through October. The upper section is perfect for families and most outfitters take kids as young as six or seven; the rougher lower section has a minimum age restriction of twelve. Costs vary, but a one-day trip with an experienced guide in your raft runs about $60 per person and includes lunch. If your New River trip doesn’t satisfy your whitewater lust, other outstanding rivers in the area include the Gauley, the Cheat, the Tygart, and the Youghiogheny. Accommodations are available at Hawk's Nest State Park, near both the New and Gauley rivers. For additional information on the area and to make reservations at Hawk’s Nest call 1-800-CALL-WVA.
(This article originally appeared in SKI Magazine)