Gauley River National Recreation Area Overview
|Rafting the Gauley River (Class VI), West Virginia (Skip Brown/National Geographic/Getty)|
The 25 miles of Gauley River and six miles of Meadow River pass through scenic gorges and valleys containing a wide variety of natural features. Dropping more than 668 feet through 28 miles of rugged terrain, the Gauley is famous for its outstanding whitewater and is one of the most technical rivers in the nation. The Meadow River gradient averages 88 feet per mile.
It is believed that the first recreational use of the Gauley River began in the early 1900s in the community of Swiss. Here city dwellers were invited to enjoy a country retreat along the river. Local residents remember childhood adventures of riding railroad ties when flood waters created huge curling waves.
Today, recreation along the Gauley and Meadow rivers is provided in a primitive setting, but not quite as primitive as floating on railroad ties. Whitewater rafters and boaters are thrilled by the exciting turbulence of the rapids ranging from Class I to Class V+. Rock climbers are challenged by the high cliff walls, and hikers enjoy rustic trails and beautiful views. Fishing is permitted in accordance with federal and state laws and breeding areas are at a premium for smallmouth bass and walleye.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication