White water rafting in West Virginia is a rollicking ride through God’s country. Seriously. When we headed to New River Gorge, West Virginia the beginning of September, winding along mountain roads towards Class VI Mountain River, the rafting outfitters in charge of our trip, I thought, “We should visit West Virginia more often. In the spring, Parkersburg impressed us with its history. This time New River Gorge and our half-day raft trip on the New River delivered the wow factor with gorgeous scenery and adventure.
Whether you are a novice or an expert, Class VI Mountain River has a trip to suit you. Our trip on the Lower New River was middle-school age, Boy Scout friendly. The minimum age on this section of the river is age nine, but don’t think that what is billed as “family friendly” is sedate. Class IV rapids, bouncy enough to toss a couple of rafting guides out of the rafts, provided satisfying rushes of excitement.
Other sections of the river were deep enough that those wanting to float on their own could get out of the raft for some solo fun.
Thanks to expert instructions from our rafting guide, we maneuvered beautifully down the river past the New River Gorge Bridge and the end of our run. The New River Gorge Bridge is the 2nd highest single arch bridge in the United States and the longest steel span in the western hemisphere. The view from below is stunning.
You don’t need to go rafting for a great view. One option is from the lookout deck at the New River Gorge Park, part of the National Park Service. Stop in the visitors center to find out about the area’s history that is filled with coal mining. On the rafting trip you can see remenants of one building of a long gone coal mining town.
A trip with Class VI Mountain River includes time to enjoy Adventures on the Gorge, the resort where Class VI Mountain River is headquartered. A gift shop, a store that sells T-shirts and clothes suited for rafting, a pub, a restaurant and a pizza and pasta place are part of the offerings. The resort does have cabins that range from simple to deluxe in a variety of sizes that can sleep 2 to 10 people. Campsites and platform canvas tents are also available.
We didn’t stay at Adventures on the Gorge, however, but at the Quality Inn in Fayetteville about 6 miles away. Our son camped at Ray’s Campground, also close by, with his Boy Scout troop.
Rafting trips go through October and start back up again in March. Class VI Mountain River does have wet suits if you are rafting when the water is cold. You will get wet. Soaked. Drenched even. The best thing I purchased was a nylon type long-sleeved T-shirt in the rafting gear shop right before I got on the bus that took us to where the raft trip started. Do not wear 100% cotton. It will hold in water and the cold.
Along with the Lower New River trip that we took which included a terrific lunch, the company runs trips on the Gauley River which is a more challenging whitewater experience. The minumum age for these trips is 13 to 15 depending upon the section of the river.
For prices and more information, check out Class VI website or call 1.888.383.9985. Prices vary. There are half-day, full-day and overnight trips.
Right now there is a Final Rafting Day Special. For $129 you can get: whitewater rafting on the Lower New River, Lower Gauley River or Upper Gauley River any day* Three meals, all of them full, hot and buffet, and free wetsuit and splash jacket rental.
Post and photo courtesy of Jamie Rhein, Member of Midwest Travel Writers Association.