by Bridget Hill
West Virginia's snowboarders and skiers have witnessed that this winter is one of the best for snow cover through the Southern West Virginia mountain slopes in many years. But Spring is time to take off the heavy jacket, bring out your sunscreen and challenge the torrential snow melts on the New River. These melting snows swell the streams and rivers providing the perfect opportunity to go head-to-head with some of the best whitewater in the US.
More than 220,000 people raft the New and Gauley Rivers each year in Southern West Virginia. The New River is the world's second oldest waterway after the Nile, and the East's most popular whitewater river. Because it drains a huge watershed, the New has an enormous volume of water coursing through the narrow canyon. The water creates a friction along the bottom and sides which generates big, oscillating waves, making for exciting rafting with minimal danger in the hands of experienced guides.
The setting for the New River is a dramatic 1000-foot deep uninhabited gorge covered with a beautiful deciduous forest. Called the "Grand Canyon of the East" the New River actually runs a third more volume than the Colorado in the Spring and provides a multi-level experience in the Summer and Fall suitable for families and youth groups.
Most of the outfitters offer the same great deals as the ski resorts this time of year-discount pricing, great packaging of food, lodging or camping and Class V whitewater! Some outfitters, like the Rivers Resort and AAA Adventure Outdoors also offer horseback riding, mountain biking, kayak instruction, rock climbing, alpine tower activities and other adventures all transparently integrated into packaged trips! Other outfitters like Rivers also offer half day trips for those with less time. Spring is a great time to plan the ultimate outdoor adventure--late season skiing and early spring whitewater.
But if you are also planning a whitewater trip remember that warmth on the river in the spring is just the opposite as on the ski slopes. Instead of wearing layers, the best outfitters will make sure you're dressed in the warmest wetsuits. Spring whitewater season is the time for synthetic thermal garments, pile fleece and the best whitewater in the country. The months of March, April and May offer some of the most challenging whitewater of the year. Historically, the New River averages over seven feet more water during these months than the summer season. And another of the advantages of spring whitewater is having the river to yourself.
The easiest way to plan your trip without calling 15 different locations is just to call AAA Adventure Outdoors. With one phone call you can arrange your dining, lodging, get a reservation with the outfitter that best fits your needs and also arrange other outdoor adventures such as rockclimbing, kayaking, horseback riding, ATV trips, mountain biking and similar activities. To learn about these opportunities check out the following sites:
or call (828) 273-3332
See you on the River!