Twenty-five miles of the lower Gauley River and six miles of the lower Meadow River are protected by the Gauley River National Recreation Area in northern Fayette County and southern Nicholas County in south-central West Virginia (WV).
The recreation area is situated generally northeast of Ansted and southwest of Summersville and is best known as a destination for kayaking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting.
The Gauley River within the recreation area attracts thousands of whitewater rafters each year, particularly in September and October, during "Gauley Season," when Summersville Lake is emptied upstream to accommodate spring and winter snowmelt. The river below the lake then grows to a torrent that rages through highly technical rapids. The Gauley and Meadow rivers within the recreation area otherwise attract kayakers in all seasons, and the sandstone cliffs that line the upper reaches of the Meadow River are a favorite destination for rock climbers year round.
National Recreation Area Administration
The Gauley River National Recreation Area is managed by the National Park Service in concert with the nearby New River Gorge National Park and Preserve and the Bluestone National Scenic River. Visit GRNRA for more information on the national recreation area.
Further information on lodging, dining, and recreation near the Gauley River National Recreation Area may be found in our guide to travel in the New River Gorge Region of southern West Virginia, in which the recreation area is located.
- Five little-known facts about rafting the Gauley River