- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

The best time of year to raft the Gauley River is in September and October, "draw-down" time, when the Summersville Dam can be counted on to release 2,500 or more cubic feet of water per second. But you need not wait: Some outfitters offer spring and summer Gauley programs with Grand Canyon-style rafting, the kind that allows a rafter to negotiate the river boulders. Spring-summer rafting is always available on the New River (see the New River Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.newrivercvb.com).
Here are tips on outfitters and places to stay. Book now for fall; these businesses pack them in:

Class VI River Runners , P.O. Box 78, Lansing, W.Va. 25862. Class VI offers trips ranging from several hours to several days in duration. Spring, summer and fall trips on the Gauley. Prices start at about $100 per person per day, depending on the size of the group. Call 800/classvi (800/252-7784) or 304/574-4906, or visit their Web site at www.class-vi.com.
North American River Runners , Hico, W.Va. Gauley rafting in September and October only. Prices start at about $94 per person per day. Call 800/950-2585 or see www.narr.com.
Songer Whitewater , Route 19 at Miller Ridge Road, Hico, W.Va. 25854. Spring, summer and fall Gauley trips start at about $100 per person per day. Call 800/356-7238 or see the Web site at www.gauley-river-rafting.com or e-mail [email protected]
Wildwater , P.O. Box 155, Lansing, W.Va. 25862. Gauley rafting in September and October only. Prices start at aboaut $96 per person per day. Call 800/982-7238, or see the Web site at www.wvaraft.com, or e-mail them at [email protected]

Where to stay
For the full Gauley experience it's recommended that you spend a couple of nights camping riverside, but you'll want to bracket the "roughing it" portions of your trip with stays in more traditional lodging. Try these:
The Charleston Marriott Town Center , 200 Lee St. East, Charleston, W.Va. 25301. Most visitors to the Gauley area end up flying into and out of Charleston, and if your schedule makes it a necessity to stay there overnight, this offers comfortable accomodations that start at $74. Call 800/228-9290 or 304/345-6500.
The County Seat , 306 W. Maple Ave., Fayetteville, W.Va. 25840. Retired teachers Eddie and Pat Bennett run this in-town bed and breakfast at their home. Two two-person rooms with private bath, $85 per night; two two-person rooms with shared bath, $75 per night. Breakfast included. 304/574-0823.
Feed Box Cabins at Good Evening Ranch , HC 79, Box 201A, Canvas, W.Va. 26662, just outside Summersville. Fully equipped cabin for two, $125 per night Sunday-Thursday, $145 per night Friday or Saturday, $500 Sunday-Thursday. Other accommodations for groups of as many as 18. Restaurant on site. Call 877-595-5448 or see the Web site at www.goodeveningranch.com.
Glade Springs Resort , Route 19, near Daniels, W.Va. If you're in the mood for a luxurious treat, Glade Springs, on more than 4,100 acres, offers five-star amenities. Luxury comes at a price, so expect to pay nightly rates of more than $200. Call 800/634-5233, or see the Web site at www.gladesprings.com.
Opossum Creek Retreat , P.O. Box 221, Lansing, W.Va. 25862. Fully equipped cabins for as many as 20 people. Cabin for one to four people $150 per night Friday and Saturday, $200 per night Friday and Saturday September-October. Call 888/488-4836 or 304/574-4836 or e-mail at [email protected] See the Web site at www.opossumcreek.com.
The Woodcrest , P.O. Box 78, Lansing, W.Va. 25862. A quaint and quiet bed and breakfast owned by the owners of Class VI River Runners. Prices start at $95 a night for a double-occupancy room with private bath. Call 866/222-7238 or 304/574-3870, e-mail them at [email protected] or see the Web site at www.thewoodcrest.com.

For a complete list of manufacturers of gear for all types of expeditions, see www.expgear.com, or check out these highly rated firms:
Mountain Hardwear of Berkeley, Calif., makes tents and sleeping bags so sophisticated that they call them "sleeping systems" and tough clothing for all expeditions. In the Washington area, the gear is available at several outlets, including REI and Hudson Trail Outfitters. See the Web site at www.mountainhardwear.com.
The North Face of San Leandro, Calif., produces a full range of expedition gear. Local marketers include REI stores, Galyan's in Gaithersburg and Fairfax and The Last Stop in Silver Spring. The Web site is at www.thenorthface.com.
Sierra Designs of Emeryville, Calif., specializes in tents, sleeping bags and clothing. Local sources include REI stores, Eastern Mountain Sports in McLean, Fairfax and Gaithersburg, Appalachian Outfitters in Oakton, and Casual Adventure in Arlington. See the Web site at www.sierradesigns.com.

Luke Dittrich

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