Whitewater rafting is perhaps the extreme sport most popularly associated with West Virginia, though rafting adventures here need not been extreme and though many rivers in West Virginia outside the mountains are gentle. Many rafting rivers are suited to family-style rafting, and paddlers need little or no experience. More than a dozen outfitters are licensed to guide rafting trips on West Virginia rivers.
Six whitewater rafting rivers!
West Virginia boasts six rivers that accommodate whitewater rafting. The New and Gauley rivers in southern West Virginia are among the world’s best known as a result of their varied gentle and difficult sections. Rafters need not be experienced to run parts of either river. The Potomac and Shenandoah in eastern West Virginia are popular in part because of their proximity to Washington, D.C. The Cheat and North Branch in northern West Virginia are popular spring.
Whitewater Rafting Vacations
Whitewater Rafting Rivers
- Cheat River Rafting
- Gauley River Rafting
- New River Rafting
- North Branch Rafting
- Potomac River Rafting
- Shenandoah River Rafting
Map showing whitewater rafting areas
Additional Rafting Information
- Whitewater Rafting Safety
- Whitewater Responsibility Act
- International Scale of River Difficulty
- West Virginia Whitewater Regulations
Whitewater: Rafting v. Kayaking
The terms “rafting” and “paddling” and “whitewater” are sometimes applied inexactly, which can lead to confusion. Rafting and kayaking are both paddling sports enjoyed on whitewater. Rafting, however, is more often a commercial endeavor enjoyed by a group, and though it is a form of recreation, it is not a sport. Though many rivers and streams in West Virginia include whitewater and may be kayaked, only a few are wide enough to support watercraft is large as rafts, which may accommodate up to eight rafters.
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