Whitewater rafting is a fantastic activity for family, friends, groups, and anyone who wants to experience nature from the water – in particular, the New River Gorge. It is a great way to cool off during the hot summer months, see the outdoors, build relationships with those around you, and of course, to have fun! For the new rafter, there are often questions that come up when planning your whitewater rafting trip. To help make this process earlier, we have compiled a list of some of the top FAQ’s that we receive from our guests.
The answers to the questions below apply specifically to River Expeditions in the New River Gorge in West Virginia, but many of them can be applied to rafting outfitters throughout the United States and beyond!
WHAT SHOULDN’T I TAKE ON THE TRIP?
Don’t take anything valuable or delicate with you on your rafting trip. You won’t need money or a wallet because we will provide everything you need, including lunch for applicable trips. Really the only things you should take are yourself, your clothes any medications you might need (in a waterproof bag), sunscreen and a hat. If you take sunglasses, make sure they aren’t valuable as they may be swept away! Don’t bring your camera – we will video your trip if you would like a souvenir. You will be able to leave your keys at our Adventure Resort before you leave for the river.
As far as footwear, we recommend river sandals or old tennis shoes. We don’t recommend flip flops or sandals with straps, and certainly no barefoot trips!
WILL MY RAFT TRIP BE VIDEO TAPED OR PHOTOGRAPHED?
River Expeditions in-house videographers highlight excitement from the day featuring the major rapids, slow motion, cool graphics and music. Advance purchase is recommended to guarantee your trip will be filmed. Photos – Quality digital images of your trip are also available to view and purchase as glossy prints on Kodak paper or CD format. You can even order your photos online after the trip. Get the rafting DVD and Photo CD as a combo for the ultimate rafting souvenir!
WHAT DO THE WHITEWATER RAPID CLASSIFICATIONS MEAN?
Rapids and rivers are subjectively rated Class I through Class VI. These ratings are dependent on volume of water, geography of the rapid and any downstream dangers and ease of recovery. In general the following classifications are appropriate:
- CLASS I-II: Mild/Easy/Beginner – Family Class
- CLASS III-IV: Moderate/Intermediate – Adventure Class
- CLASS V-V+: Advanced – World Class
WHEN’S THE BEST TIME TO RAFT?
Every season brings its own special excitement to the rivers of West Virginia. Spring rains generally bring high water to the New and Gauley River Basins, which bring the ultimate in Big Water Thrills and chills. The water and air temperature is usually lower and wet suits are welcome apparel. Historical nature tours to the Old Coal Mining Ghost Towns are also more popular in the spring because of tremendous beauty of the blooming mountain foliage in the New River Gorge National Park. Summer brings sunny days and warm nights to spend on overnights along the river. Water levels are nearer normal and the water temperature is 70°. Summertime river trips are great outings for the whole family. You can look forward to a fun-filled, non-stop weekend summer time adventure at River Expeditions. Fall brings some of the most exhilarating whitewater in the world with the release of the Summersville Lake and the World Class challenges of the Gauley River. As the beautiful fall foliage peaks with color raft trips on both the New and Gauley Rivers are not only exciting, but the mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. Not much can match the beauty of Southern West Virginia as seen from a raft on the New or Gauley River. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience! Some of our best discounts can be taken advantage of during the early spring and late fall.
WILL OUR RAFT BE GUIDED?
All River Expeditions trips are guided. Each of our rafts has a fully trained, professional guide. All guides are qualified in First Aid and CPR. Many have advanced medical skills (EMT, Wilderness First Responder, etc.) All are extensively trained in rescue procedures from difficult terrain or rivers. SAFETY IS OUR NO.1 PRIORITY! You will have the opportunity to paddle on your own, only on trips that allow the use of duckies. On these trips there is a guide nearby who will lead your trip.
WHAT IF I CAN’T SWIM?
While it is helpful to be able to swim, it is not required. Many of River Expeditions guests can’t swim, but everyone on a whitewater trip is required to wear a Type V Personal Floatation Device (PFD or Life jacket). These US Coast Guard approved PFDs are designed to be able to float a person upright. The only folks who should not come are those people with an inherent fear of water. A whitewater raft trip is no place to face your fear of water. Everyone else will love it! Everybody gets wet & wild at River Expeditions!
If you have a question not listed above, contact the experienced River Expeditions team at 800.463.9873 and they will be happy to answer any questions you might have about whitewater, the local region of the New River Gorge, safety standards, and much more!
Looking for some of our other FAQs?