Many of our guests have questions about whitewater river rafting in West Virginia and planning their adventure with us. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s), that pertain to rafting information, rafting guides, group accommodations, river related safety issues, and many other commonly asked questions about West Virginia vacations with River Expeditions.
We welcome all your questions and take time to answer them thoroughly and to the best of our knowledge. Feel free to call us at 1.800.463.9873 or email your question to [email protected]
- How do I make a reservation?
- What should I wear?
- What shouldn’t I take on the trip?
- What will I need for camping?
- How close is the New River Gorge National Park?
- How will I get to the river?
- Will my raft trip be video taped or photographed?
- How long is the rafting trip?
- What happens if it’s raining?
- Do you sell gift certificates?
- Can I save money?
- Who can raft?
- What do the Whitewater rapid classifications mean?
- When’s the best time to raft?
- Will our raft be guided?
- Can I request a guide?
- Is rafting safe?
- What if I have a medical condition?
- What if I am pregnant?
- What if I can’t swim?
- Are you licensed by the state of West Virginia?
- What if I have a disability?
HOW DO I MAKE A RESERVATION?
Simply give River Expeditions a call at 1-800-463-9873 or book online today. The best time to make a reservation for your West Virginia vacation is as soon as you can get your group together and pick a date. Select weekends and holidays fill up very early in the season. The sooner you book a reservation, the better the chance is that your first choice of dates will be available. Reservations are required in advance and payment is due 30 days prior to your trip, if you are booking more than 30 days ahead.
Our Adventure Travel Specialists are all very familiar with the wonderful places that are to be found in West Virginia and are skilled at helping plan your vacation. We can combine any River Expeditions Whitewater Trip with camping, lodging and meals. There are many area attractions and activities that our reservationists can arrange at special prices and special times. Call now or book online today. See you on the river!
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
In warmer months, a bathing suit, shorts, t-shirt, hat, sunglasses, sun screen, and old tennis shoes or river sandals are suggested. In spring and fall, a sweater, cap and socks of wool or polypropylene, over swim wear plus a wetsuit and/or nylon paddling gear with old tennis shoes or river sandals are suggested. Wetsuits and paddling jackets are available for daily rental – wetsuits are $20 and paddling jackets are $10 or get both pieces for $25 (Best Deal). Photo ID required to rent gear.
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, old tennis shoes or water shoes. No flip flops or sandals without straps are permitted… and certainly no barefoot trips!
WHAT WILL I NEED FOR CAMPING?
River Expeditions Camping Packages provide the campsite only. You will need to bring, tents, sleeping bags and toiletries for our shower house. *Rustic Cabins, Tents on Platforms and RV Sites are available for nightly rental (Advanced reservations are required).
HOW CLOSE IS THE NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL PARK?
Canyon Rim Visitors Center is located just 4 miles north of River Expeditions. This is a great place to begin your exploration of the New River Gorge National River. You’ll find helpful rangers, easy-to-read hiking and biking trail maps and a beautiful overlook of the famed New River Gorge Bridge, plus ranger-lead hikes and lectures.
HOW WILL I GET TO THE RIVER?
River Expeditions provides shuttle bus transportation to and from our Adventure Resort to the river. The cost of this transportation is included in your rafting trip. During the drive, your rafting guide will explain what to expect during your rafting trip and talk about the river conditions, plus provide important safety information.
WILL MY RAFT TRIP BE VIDEO TAPED OR PHOTOGRAPHED?
River Expeditions videographers paddle by kayak in advance of the trip and highlight excitement from the day featuring the major rapids, slow motion and music. Advance purchase is recommended to guarantee your trip will be filmed. Quality digital photo images of your trip are also available to view and purchase. 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!
HOW LONG IS THE RAFTING TRIP?
The most popular, full day trips average about 5 to 7 hours round trip from the River Expeditions base camp. These times are approximate, including lunch and transportation, and depend on water level, weather conditions, other river trips and the pace you enjoy the most. Half Day or ‘Express Trips’ are available for those who have less time to devote to rafting. These trips average about 2-3 hours. Multi-Day trips are also available, including overnight riverside or landside accommodations.
Depending on the time of year, trips on the New River are 12-14 miles when the water is high. When the water is lower, the trip may cover about 7 miles. Our Adventure Travel Specialists can give you information on typical seasonal differences. Trips on the Gauley River are typically 12 miles. Our Full Gauley Marathon trip is 24 miles of exciting whitewater!
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT’S RAINING?
You will get wet whether its raining or not! So your raft trip will go ahead, rain or shine! If the rain gets very heavy, your raft guide will pull the raft over to the side of the river for a while.
DO YOU SELL GIFT CERTIFICATES?
You bet we do! River Expeditions Gift certificates make a great gift for someone special. Gift certificates can be used for Whitewater Rafting vacations on the New and Gauley Rivers. You can purchase them by trip or in any denomination you wish. So make somebody happy twice – once when you give it and once when they enjoy the thrills and fun of a Whitewater Adventure in West Virginia. Call today 1-800-463-9873 for River Expeditions Gift Certificates and give the gift of adventure!
CAN I SAVE MONEY?
River Expeditions Special Events offer some of the best bang for your buck! Our Weekday trips are always the best bargain on both the New and Gauley River. In addition, River Expeditions runs some mid-week specials that allow almost anyone to enjoy Whitewater Rafting. Groups receive discounts based on group size. So don’t let the price keep you from the fun; call today to take advantage of our specials and discounts 1-800-463-9873. Sign up to receive our E-Newsletter and you’ll be notified of any last minute savings offers exclusively for subscribers.
WHO CAN RAFT?
Almost anyone from 6 to 86 can find whitewater fun on both the New and Gauley Rivers. No experience is necessary on the milder sections of both rivers. Of course there are plenty of thrills for the “adrenaline junkies” in the wilder sections of the New and the World Famous Gauley River. For the most fun, start mild while building your skill level, and then try the bigger, wilder rapids. A multi-day trip lets you build your confidence and river ability each day. Although being able to swim is helpful, many non-swimmers raft with River Expeditions each year since each guest is given all necessary safety equipment: a Coast Guard approved Type V Life Jacket, Paddle and Helmet. Handicapped folks often raft with River Expeditions. We love to share the beauty and excitement of River Expeditions and Southern West Virginia with as many people as possible. We do our best to accommodate everyone. Just call our Adventure Travel Specialists to help make arrangements for any special needs you may have.
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. Call 1-800-463-9873 for more information.
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.
CAN I REQUEST A GUIDE?
Yes. We will do our best to accommodate your requests, but remember, your favorite River Expeditions guide may have already be requested or have other commitments that prevent us from making a guarantee. Call early to increase the chance that your favorite guide will be available for your trip. Keep in mind that all our guides are excellent and each offers a unique trip experience, so give them all a try!
IS RAFTING SAFE?
River Expeditions has an excellent safety record, but whitewater rafting does have inherent risks, including but not limited to, serious physical injury and/or death. Our guides meet, or exceed, all West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Safety Standards and specific First Aid and CPR Training. Life jackets must be worn at all times on the river and helmets are required in advanced whitewater. You can help enhance your safety by being in good shape. Alcohol and controlled substances are not permitted on the river. Guests with medical conditions should alert the Trip Leader. Guests suffering from asthma should be aware that cold water can be a severe hindrance to their breathing. Lunch spots occasionally draw bees and anyone who is allergic should bring their medication and inform the Trip Leader. It is the responsibility of every rafter to adhere to safety procedures.
WHAT IF I HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION?
When making your reservation, please be sure to inform the River Expeditions Adventure Travel Specialist of any medical condition, physical disability or allergy that may require special attention or accommodations. Obtain your physician’s written approval to raft if you have special medical conditions, such as, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, heart condition, bee sting allergy, etc. While we can accommodate most conditions, it is always best to know prior to rafting and be prepared for any contingency. If you have questions about particular conditions please call a River Expeditions Adventure Travel Specialist at 1-800-463-9873. See you on the river!
WHAT IF I AM PREGNANT?
If you are pregnant, you will not be permitted to go rafting. Consider that you won’t always be pregnant, but the river will always be here. We do not think it is worth the chance of risking it, no matter how early you are in your pregnancy. At River Expeditions we think moms are special – we know you agree and appreciate your cooperation!
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!
ARE YOU LICENSED BY THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA?
Yes. River Expeditions is licensed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for our river activities on the New and Gauley rivers. We are also members of America Outdoors and the West Virginia Professional River Outfitters Association – these are the top outfitter agencies in the country.
WHAT IF I HAVE A DISABILITY?
Those with physical or mental challenges often raft with River Expeditions. We love to share the beauty and excitement of our rivers with everyone, regardless of their disabilities. Our staff is patient, compassionate and open to sharing new experiences with all our guests. While we can accommodate most conditions, it is always best to know this information in advance. Please give us details when making your reservations.