USA Travel Magazine

           West Virginia Travel Guide

Go White River Rafting And Kayaking Along The New River And Gauley Rivers

Southern West Virginia is known as the Grand Canyon of the East, and is where the New River curves through the mountains, and a 53-mile stretch of the river was designated a National Historic River in 1996. This is a great place to enjoy a relaxing day fishing or take a raft or duckie trip on the Upper New with its' mild to moderate ripples or take on the Lower New big water rapids that is great for all levels of experience. New River season begins in April and runs through October. The New is a free-flowing river and boasts a different experience every time.

Attracting rafters from around the globe, the Gauley River, located in Summersville, is a dam-released river and has a scheduled release season starting the Friday after Labor Day and going for six weekends – a 22 day season. (Reservations are highly recommended). The 26-mile stretch of river is divided into two sections; the Lower Gauley with its' combination of spectacular scenery and challenging rapids offers an awesome experience for the beginner or intermediate rafter. This trip is recommended as next in the sequence, after the Lower New, in your whitewater achievements.

The Upper Gauley, often referred to as the ultimate in whitewater challenges, is a super-charged rafting experience. A rafting participant on this section of river will experience a rush of adrenaline as they and their raft-mates pour over “Sweets Falls”, a 16-foot waterfall placed neatly in the middle of the rafting excursion, and again as the crew careens toward a huge boulder, duly-named “Pillow Rock”. These are merely a taste of the major rapids rafters will encounter on this adventure. Minimum ages apply – previous experience highly recommended for this section of river. Contact 800-VISIT-WV for a list of outfitters.

Southern West Virginia has many Mountain biking trails, both hard and soft. It has been ranked in the top five places in the world to mountain bike with mild flat railroad bed paths as well as single-track terrain. If you prefer hiking Southern West Virginia has trails for everyone's abilities. Hike to the top of a ridge to enjoy views like no other or take a stroll through the woods.

Take your journey a step further and go underground in southern WV with a tour into a once-operational coal mine in Beckley, WV. A wise, retired coal miner will spin a tale of an era that served a major role in the shaping of West Virginia's culture and heritage. At the Beckley Exhibition Coal mine, families can learn a bit of history together. Located next to the coal mine is a wonderful place for kids called the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia.

The Museum has a variety of activities and hands-on exhibits and is also home to The Mountain Homestead, a replica of a small pioneer community. Continuing underground, two great places to explore are Lost World Caverns and Organ Cave located in Greenbrier County. The large rooms and spectacular formations of Lost World Caverns await your visit and history beckons you to see where General Lee's troops lived in Organ Cave during the Civil War.

By Leroy Worley

Getting There:

Explore recreation, events, attractions and more by visiting the Summersville Convention and Visitors Bureau at