The New River Gorge Scouting Report

The Information You Need to Survive the New River Gorge

A raft enters Greyhound Bus Stopper on the New River Gorge
A raft enters Greyhound Bus Stopper on the New River Gorge. © 2007 by Scott Ogeka

New River Background:

Despite its name, The New River is the oldest river on the North American Continent. It is also one of only a handful of large rivers on this planet that flows North. Every year thousands of raft enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to Fayetteville, WV to brave the high volume Class III to Class V rapids of the famed New River Gorge. “The New” has become a favorite among kayakers and canoeists looking for year-round paddling and consistent conditions throughout the summer.

 

The New River Paddling Information:

  • Section: The New River Gorge from Cunard to Fayette Station
  • Trip Length: 6 - 7 miles
  • Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Classification: Class III, Class IV, & Class V
  • Gauge: Fayette Station
  • Levels: -2 feet to 12 feet (1,000 cfs to 30,000 cfs)
  • Rusty’s Shuttle Service: 304-574-3475

Shuttle Information:

  • Take-Out: From Fayetteville, WV take Route 19 to WV 82 down to the River.
  • Put-In: Take Route 19 to Main Street in Fayetteville. Drive through town and take a left at the fork in the road just past the convenience store. Follow signs to Cunard.
  • Shuttle Map: View this map for more detail.

     

New River Gorge Scouting and Rapids:

  1. Upper Railroad Rapids: Shortly after putting in you will see a Railroad Bridge going over the river. The first rapid prior to the bridge is Upper Railroad Rapids. There is a keeper hole (at certain levels) on river right. Stay to the left to miss the hole.
  1. Lower Railroad Rapids: It is a good idea to scout this rapid. The best route would have you start off left of center, paddle over a pillow of water, and then head to the right. You will miss the hole at the bottom by following this line. People have died on this rapid due to the undercut rocks at lower levels. There are some fun waves to surf after going through this rapid. You can eddy out on the left to access them.
  1. Upper Keaney: This Class III rapid can be identified by a feature known as Whale Rock on River Left. You’ll understand why it is called this once you see it. The rapid is basically a wave train with a great ride. You can eddy-out behind Whale Rock to catch your breath.
  2. Middle Keaney: This Class IV rapid should be scouted. You can do so on the right side of the river just before the rapid. You’ll see the line you want to take from here. The best route is found either just left or right of the large waves in this rapid. Be careful of the many holes found along the left and right sides of the river.
  3. Lower Keaney: This Class IV rapid is a narrow passage in the river. You can scout it on the river right hand side. Once you climb over the boulders you’ll be able to see the best line to take. You’ll want to setup properly so as not to get pushed into Wash-Up Rock on the bottom left side of this rapid. Enjoy the ride!
  4. Dudley’s Dip: Go to the right of the pourover rock at the entrance of this rapid. You will then want to go between the next two pourover rocks that you find. Watch for undercut rocks on both sides of the river.
  5. Double Z: This Class V rapid requires confidence in one’s ability to make multiple maneuvers one after another. It is named because of the zigzag path that a boat takes from the entrance of the rapid to the exit. Eddy-out at river right and climb over the boulders to scout this rapid. You will want to start in the middle of the river and then make your way to the right hand side after you enter the rapid and before you continue over the upcoming drops. From here you can catch your breath before proceeding. Get out and scout again. Depending on the level, there are different lines to take. If there are other kayakers around, it is a good idea to watch the lines that they take to avoid the boulders and holes that are throughout this rapid. You especially want to avoid the huge hole in the center of this rapid and the undercut boulder at the bottom left side of the river.
  1. Old 99: This Class III rapid can be run from any starting point you like. The second part of this rapid has a chute and a hole. Paddle left after the chute to avoid the hole on the right.
  2. Greyhound Bus Stopper: This is a river wide ledge that forms a pourover, hole, or tongue at different levels and at different parts of it. Paddle hard into this to the far left or to the right.
  3. Upper and Lower Kaymoor: Both of these rapids can be river scouted from the water. Be careful to avoid any holes that show up at lower levels.
  4. Miller’s Folly: This Class IV rapid should be approached from the middle of the river. You will paddle down a chute. Stay on the left of the chute and go to the left of the big rock on the right hand side of the river. You will then enter a huge wave-train. Run to the right of the next hole that you come to and angle left to avoid going over Invisible Rock and the nasty hole behind it.
  1. Fayette Station Rapid: This Class IV rapid can be recognized once you see the two bridges over the river. This rapid can be scouted from the left hand side of the river. You can also take a look at it when you drop your car off at the takeout. There are holes, ledges and big waves through this rapid. Run it right of center and be prepared to brace as you hit the waves midway through the rapid. Once through, paddle to the left bank to take out. If you haven’t had enough yet, you can carry your boat back up and run this one again.