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New River Gorge

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The Dave Trippin' crew is fresh back from a weekend playing in the New River Gorge so it's pretty easy to pull the trigger on recommending a trip (*for experienced rafters ages 16 and up) to experience the world-class fall Gauley River season.

After an epic summer of big water with nearly unprecedented levels on the New, the Gauley season, which kicks off Friday, looks to be big as well. The Gauley, which has more than 100 named rapids, will feature 32 days.

Those additional days are the result of the normal, routine inspection conducted every 10 years of the Summersville Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers. That string of days will run Sept. 13 through 30 and includes many rare mid-week days as well to go run this amazing river that helps give West Virginia its great name when it comes to whitewater.

Folks will fly in from around the world to take a wild ride on what is considered one of the premiere two-day commercially-run whitewater rafting trips in the world. While Saturdays are the most expensive to run the Gauley, a good tip is to try to run it on a weekday, when rates can be lower.

And since the water is coming from the bottom of the Summersville Lake Dam it actually warms up as the season rolls toward Bridge Day and the last day of Gauley (Oct. 20).

If that sounds a little too wild for you, you can go river mild this weekend too and take a sternwheeler cruise and dinner at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 with the Island Belle departing Point Park in downtown Parkersburg. The boat returns to Point Park at 7:30 p.m. for guests to enjoy a Point Park Music Series concert that features "Who's Bad," the long running Michael Jackson tribute act."

Cost of the river cruise and dinner is $25 and $20 for children ages 3-12. Call Blennerhassett Island State Park office at 304-420-4800.

Dave Lavender is the author of "Dave Trippin: A Daytripper's Guide to the Appalachian Galaxy of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia." Follow the H-D reporter on Facebook or Twitter @DaveLavenderHD.