What makes Gauley a world-renowned whitewater rafting river?
Whitewater rapids are graded on a scale of I-V, from “mild” to “wild.”
The Upper Gauley has five Vs, each with its own character and thrills:
This rapid is most definitely NOT insignificant. The name is actually an ironic joke. The first party to run the river in 1961 went at low water, reporting that there were no “significant” rapids above Pillow Rock. When the next party followed several seasons later– in high water– they left asking each other: “THAT was ‘insignificant’?” You’ll be asking yourself the same question.
2. Pillow Rock
Get ready for the best 10 seconds of American whitewater! This rapid is short, steep and spectacular. It will roll you on a watery ‘pillow” right over a boulder. Be prepared for massive waves, a breakneck-paced charge towards the “Pillow Rock,” and final drop through the “toilet bowl” hole.
3. Lost Paddle
Pillow is the most fun, but Lost Paddle is the longest. Nearly a quarter-mile long, bolstered by the added volume of the Meadow River just upstream, and with too many obstacles and undercut rocks to count, this rapid requires precise maneuvering. But it’s also fun. Brace for “Hawaii Five-O,” a huge wave followed by an even bigger drop.
4. Iron Ring
Like Insignificant and Lost Paddle, Iron Ring starts small. And it looks very straightforward. Don’t get complacent, though! On river left is a major obstacle called “Woodstock,” which at many levels can be a challenge!
5. Sweet’s Falls
The only rapid actually called a “waterfall,” this is without a doubt the biggest single drop on the river. If you nail the dismount on the falls, you have the option of going hard left into Box Canyon, a fun little passage between rocks. However, the defining feature of Sweet’s Falls is its audience. Locals call this place the Gauley-seum. Come see why!
Can you handle them?
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