About the New River

White water rafting is an exciting sport enjoyed by people around the world. When we think of rafting we think of adrenaline, excitement, and of course, water! Without it, we would be nothing but a raft on the ground, so shouldn’t we know a little bit about the water that allows us to experience the thrill of rafting?

The New River, otherwise known as the Kanawha River, is about 320 miles long, stretching through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The portion in West Virginia is known as the New River Gorge National River and is an American Heritage River.


The New River gets its name from the difficulty that explorers had in tracking it down! Even though the discovery is relatively new, the river isn’t; it is the 3rd oldest river in the world! The first recorded exploration was in 1671, by Abraham Wood on a fur trading expedition, resulting in another name- Wood’s River.

The New River begins its journey close in the mountains of North Carolina, where is travels northwest through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and several valleys, including the Appalachian Valley. After it reaches the Appalachian Plateau in the New River Gorge, it meets the Gauley River, and becomes the Kanawha River in West Virginia. This river travels all the way to the Gulf of Mexico!

The New and Gauley Rivers are important parts of both history and nature. On your next rafting adventure, be sure to take a second to appreciate the abundance of natural beauty and history that the New River has to offer rafters!