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Now that summer’s over and school has started, the days of driving off in the RV for a week or two on a wonderful family adventure are over for quite a while.  Sad but true. Luckily for us, we live in an area where there are some great places to go that can be accessed in just a weekend…the one that comes to mind first and foremost, since fall is in the air, is Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia.  It’s the best time of year for it – the roughest, most challenging ride awaits. Can you handle it?

rv family trips west virginia
Riding the Rapids in West Virginia

West Virginia’s state tourism industry thrives in large part because so many people flock there to ride the more than 2000 miles of wild and untamed rivers that cut through this Appalachian state. The idea of steering through gauntlets of sharp jutting rock on a thrashing roller coaster of whitewater in a little rubber boat might not necessarily appeal to everyone, but you’ll find that whitewater rafting can take a number of different forms including peaceful, calm river journeys through some of America’s most stunning and scenic territory. Who knows, a weekend whitewater rafting trip might be one of the most memorable adventures you ever take.

RV vacation west virginiaThe best standard to observe when deciding which rivers or sections of river you’d like to raft is the I to VI scale. Novices and kids without a guide can navigate rivers gauged as Level I or II. Rivers designated III or IV require paddling skills and guides, while rivers designated VI require a lot of experience and a taste for the kind of dangerous thrills that others might find suicidal. Most rivers will have a little bit of most of the designations — stretches of calm and stretches of hair-raising wild water. If you know your limitations (and make sure your outfitter knows them, too), you’ll have a great time on most of West Virginia’s rivers. So let’s have a look at three great locations.

Cheat River

west virginia RV trips
Rafting the Cheat River

Along with the New River and the Gauley River, the Cheat places among West Virginia’s top three whitewater rafting rivers. The Cheat River cuts a 12-mile path through remote and wondrously beautiful territory in the northern part of the state. The Cheat’s a bit moody, and conditions on the river change seasonally. The rough time, when the rapids reach designations of II to V+, is springtime, from April to early June when snowmelt and rainfall raise the water level. Later in the summer the river calms down and names of particularly challenging sections along the way like Big Nasty, Even Nastier, Decision, and High Falls seem not so menacing. Cheat River Outfitters specializes in whitewater trips along the river (888-997-4837 or 304-329-2024).

west virginia rv tripWhen rafting the Cheat River, you can stay at Cheat Canyon Campground. They have over 10 acres of level grassy camping area located along side the mighty Cheat River in Albright, West Virginia. Three of their campsites offer 30 Amp electrical service hook-up. Their primitive campsites have picnic tables and fire pits. Large Groups can be easily accommodated in their large grassy area. You can find Cheat Canyon Campground at 3405 N Preston Hwy, Albright, WV. 304 329 6522

New River

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Gauley Bridge

The New River offers whitewater fun and scenic splendor. One of the oldest rivers in the Western Hemisphere, the New winds northward from Virginia to become the New River Gorge National River, a protected 53-mile, free-flowing waterway in southern West Virginia. The New River is massive; in places its gorge measures a mile across, winning it the title “Grand Canyon of the East.” Ancient rock walls vault above as you meander down this popular whitewater rafting river. The New River gets gradually more challenging as you travel northward. The first third requires no experience and makes for a leisurely voyage. The latter two-thirds, though, get increasingly more challenging as the river drops over 240 feet. If you want a calm trip you can bail out after the first third. For those looking to learn some paddling and boating skills, the II- and III-class stretches in the middle of the New River are good places to serve your apprenticeship. Good outfitters to contact if you choose to make your whitewater adventure on the New River include New & Gauley River Adventures (800-759-7238 or 304-574-3008), and New River Scenic Whitewater Tours (800-292-0880 or 304-465-2025).

new river campground wv
New River Campground, West Virginia

A good bet for camping near the New River is New River Campground which is located on Scenic Midland Trail/Route 60 just above Gauley Bridge, WV.  They have 39 full hookup sites ( water, electric and sewer ) and 13 rustic ( tents only – no utilities ). Each of their campsites contain a fire ring, grill and picnic table.  There is a bathhouse with hot showers and it is equipped with heating and air conditioning.  There is also a boat launch and a covered shelter that can be rented. You can reach New River Campground at 11218 Midland Trail, Gauley Bridge, WV 304 632 9821

Greenbrier River

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Greenbrier River Rafting

The Greenbrier River winds just a little distance east of the New River Gorge National River in southern West Virginia. This relatively calm river stretches a sinuous 150-plus miles, some of it through the spectacular Monongahela National Forest. The Greenbrier is a class I to III river, affording novice rafters a great chance to enjoy wonderful scenery along the ambitiously long route. The Greenbrier is also a favorite canoeing river. The path of the Greenbrier will take you past many state parks and the remnants of old logging communities. Think about starting your Greenbrier adventure where the Greenbrier and New rivers diverge, just below the dam near Hinton. Several outfitting companies are based in Hinton, and they can give you ample information about floating or canoeing the Greenbrier.

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Greenbrier River Campground

The GREENBRIER RIVER CAMPGROUND is a good place to think about, not only for camping, when you’re visiting the Greenbrier, but also for an outfitting company. The Campground is one of only three in the state of West Virginia that is nationally rated *  FOUR STARS *  !!! Their 8 acre campground is located right on the banks of the Greenbrier River and offers wooded and riverside camping for tents and all types of recreational vehicles. Each RV campsite averages 33′ x 68′ in size and all sites offer partial shading and a view of the river. Campers have access to a quarter-mile of river frontage owned by the campground. Great fishing for a variety of fish abound and they have the most desirable river swimming area on the river. The grounds are neat and well-maintained with gravel roads and well-lighted public areas. With the exception of some tent sites, all of their sites services include electric (20amp/30amp/50amp), water, daily trash pick-up, and your choice of sewer service. This is a modern facility offering all the amenities you would expect from a FOUR STAR campground. They are open from April 15th through October 15th each year (weather permitting).

The GREENBRIER RIVER COMPANY is the oldest, most experienced, and most complete outfitter on the Greenbrier River. They are the company that started it all, and take special pride in the slogan “First On The River”. Being located in the very heart of the best paddling waters on the Greenbrier allows them to offer Class I thru Class III action all within their immediate area. They call it Quietwater/Whitewater paddling adventure. They have great sections for all levels of paddling skill. They rent only sturdy watercraft manufactured by reputable companies. All of their equipment is maintained in “like new” condition. Their rental facility and livery is located within the Greenbrier River Campground.

The keys to making the whole whitewater experience fun are choosing an outfitter with whom you feel safe and secure and having the right equipment. Outfitters will provide you with guidance and equipment, and many of them provide exceptional resources and perks such as catered meals and photographs of your trip. You’ll be able to find a bunch of outfitters listed on the Internet or through the West Virginia state tourism board at 800-CALL-WVA.

So what are you waiting for? The weekend is getting near….better prime the RV and get your plans firmed up for a great Whitewater Rafting Adventure!!

Safford RV

6101 Mallard Rd, Thornburg, VA

540 735 1100 / 800 719 3507