Rafting the New River: Fun, Fear, and Giggles

First the facts and then the fun. (Although learning is fun, yes I know.)

The New River in West Virginia has various stories for why it’s so named, none of them satisfactory in my opinion. It actually flows Northeast (NE) and some folks think people started calling it “new” from reading the direction symbol on the map. Now, you might be thinking, a river flows north? It starts in the mountains of North Carolina and does flow north through West Virginia, where I encountered it. It’s also considered one of the oldest rivers in the world, perhaps second to the Nile.

The river drops 750 feet in 50 miles, vs. the Mississippi which drops 1,428 feet in 2,300 miles. Translation: A LOT of rapids, with major drops at each. Translation: a lot of fun, a bit of fear, and serious skill on the part of our river guide.

The New River is the most advanced river I’ve done. With Class III and IV rapids, we navigated immense boulders and powerful eddies (currents opposite to the river’s current). For context, Class V is the highest you can take people for recreation; beyond that you’re professional. At times the raft felt like it was vertical, but surely it wasn’t. We surfed in the river, with currents actually creating waves!

The New River is also the only one where I didn’t fall out of the raft–in fact no one did. I asked a guide-in-training on our trip what was different about prior rivers that we fell in. She said it wasn’t the river, but our guide. TJ at River Expeditions is spectacular! He kept us safe and taught us about mining along the New River Gorge. He’s the kind of person who makes the difference between a fun trip one that’s truly phenomenal.

These pictures are from fine Flickr users, to give an example of the rapids we experienced. It’s not all action–take a look at the one of rafts floating through the pool.

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One Response


Wow Paula- this looks scary to me but I am so impresed with you for taking the plunge! (Also nice to hear you did not take a literal plunge…)

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