9 things you didn’t know about our famous Gauley Season

Southern West Virginia’s biggest whitewater event is world-renowned.

Whitewater & A View - Photo courtesy: River Expeditions

Whitewater & A View – Photo courtesy: River Expeditions

How much do you know about the wild, wonderful, famous and fierce Gauley?

Here are some facts that’ll reshape what you think of the river we know (fondly) as the “Beast of the East”:

1. Controlled dam releases guarantee water and enormous rapids. Gauley Season is a rarity in the whitewater world, which is why so many adventurers flock to West Virginia in the fall.

2.  President Reagan made the Gauley River a National Recreation Area (a National Park Service unit)— partially because of its world-class whitewater!

3. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first scheduled dam releases in the 1980s, flows only lasted 2 weeks. Today, Gauley Season roars for about 22 (non-consecutive) days in September and October.

4. The Gauley has more Class IV and V rapids than any river in eastern America. And during the Season, its infamous Big 5 rapids (Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring and Sweet’s Falls) swell to enormous sizes.

5. The river is one of the world’s top 10 whitewater runs.

6. Roughly 40,000 rafters ride “The Beast of the East” during Gauley Season. Paddlers don’t only come from across America, but also around the world.

7. Every season, the Summersville Dam releases 44 million gallons of water. With all that volume, you could fill 1 Olympic-size pool every 10 seconds!

8. Released water comes out at approximately 50+ mph.

9. Water from Summersville Lake dam isn’t released continuously. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “ramps” the amount to make sure there’s enough left through the season.

Have you planned your Gauley River adventure?