Popular white water rafting destinations exist all over the world. Nearly a world away New Zealand is one location that is highly prized for beautiful mountain scenery, fast rushing waters and voluminous mountain rivers. The western United States offers many white water river excursions to thrill seeking tourists from Idaho to the Colorado river and the famous Grand Canyon. However, these destinations are often too far for many who live on the eastern coast of the US, and many will not consider white water rafting simply because of the necessity to travel so far for a white water vacation.
Hidden in the eastern Allegheny mountain state of West Virginia are some of the best whitewater rapids offered anywhere in the world. West Virginia is known for the frequent flooding and powerful raging waters that can cause devastation to little towns and villages along smaller streams and rivers. West Virginia is filled with many high elevation mountain tops and ridges which disperse water during the heavy volume rainfalls this region receives each year. The heaviest rainfalls occur in spring and late fall prior to the change to the winter season. Since all water must flow downhill, West Virginia has many locations where the high mountains naturally drop in a steep grade and subsequently the water flows rapidly to streams, creeks and rivers below. This creates many conducive environments for fast moving white water rapids, especially during the rainy seasons of the mountain state.
Two river of notable mention located in the heart of West Virginia are the New River and the Gauley River. Both of these rivers offer some of the most dynamic white water excursions found anywhere. While the New River can provide lower class beginner tours, the Gauley is for more advanced serious whitewater thrill seekers. The Gauley with names such as Heaven’s gate and Pure Screaming Hell rapids certainly should give an idea of what to expect. The New River is a little more forgiving while offering class 2 through class 5 rapids and a much longer scenic path through the mountains of West Virginia. The New River also has a unique characteristic of flowing northward as is attributed to the elevation in which it begins and the lower altitude in which it ends.