New River Whitewater Rafting

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Rafters in lower New River Gorge

The New River ranks among the best whitewater rafting rivers in the U.S. Other rivers may offer more challenging rapids or easier access to major population centers, but few combine the majesty of landscape with such a variety of rafting experiences. Outfitters divide the river's whitewater rafting area into two segments, each of which provides for a more difficult rafting adventure. The Upper New, near Oak Hill, West Virginia, is the more moderate. Its Class II and III rapids are suited to novices and rafters who care little for technical knowledge. Downstream, the Lower New, near Fayetteville, West Virginia, requires rafters to possess more ability, and its rapids increase in difficulty to Class III-IV.

Many rafting outfitters guide tours of both the upper and lower whitewater sections combined, providing rafters the opportunity to hone their paddling skills on a 14 mile excursion of increasing difficulty. Half-day, full-day, and overnight excursions are generally outfitted by most commercial guide companies that are licensed to run the New. Most also outfit two-day adventures that include a first day on the New and a second on the nearby , the upper section of which is also among the most challenging whitewater runs in the world.

Much of the allure of New River rafting is advanced by the cultural and natural history of the New River Gorge, the chasm of rock and forest through which it travels. The river and its gorge are remnants of one of the oldest river systems in the world, and outstanding scenery created by millions of years of geologic upheaval awaits rafters around every bend. Guides are apt to lead rafters off the river and into the several ghosts towns that hide among the dense riverside vegetation.

Hotel lodging near New River Rafting

Rafting Area Location

The New River whitewater rafting area is located in the northern New River Gorge Region. Further information on  lodging, dining, travel, and recreation may be found by exploring its regional information.

Map of New River Rafting Area

Expeditions on the upper New River rafting area most often launch at Stone Cliff Beach near Thurmond, WV, and end at the National Park Service's Cunard river access area. Trips on the lower rafting area most often launch at Cunard and end at the parks service's access at Fayette Station beneath the New River Gorge Bridge.  Outfitters transport rafters back to base camps, many of which are located near Oak Hill and Fayetteville.

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