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Experiencing the Outdoors;
Spring White-Water Excitement

by Cory Boothe


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April is a month to begin thrill-seeking. It finds many West Virginia streams full of water and fun.

Whitewater is one of the main tourism industries in West Virginia. Rivers, such as the New, Gauley and Cheat, bring in tourists from all over the world. West Virginia is blessed with commercial whitewater rivers that range from mild to wild.

Rapids are classified according to their difficulty and danger. They range from Class I to Class VI. Class I rapids are basically currents with very small waves. Difficulties, such as rocks, pour-overs, huge hydraulics, and undercuts, up the levels. Class VI rapids are considered very dangerous and almost unrunable. Commercial rafters do not experience any rapids above a V+.

Three factors create whitewater. Change in elevation, constriction (fitting the same volume of water into a tighter space), and an obstruction (a.k.a. rocks). For example, the Little Kanawha River loses only a very few feet per mile of river, while the Upper Gauley below Summersville Dam drops over 60 feet per mile. Also, the Little Kanawha has very little areas of constriction or large rocks. The New River necks down to less than 30 yards wide in a few places and contains rocks as large as houses.

It is my 11th season as a guide on the New, Gauley and Cheat rivers. I work for Class VI out of Lansing. It provides whitewater thrills on the New and Gauley rivers. I work for Cheat River Outfitters while paddling the Cheat. Check out and

This is a wonderful vacation for West Virginia families to consider. Different sections of water allow family fun for children as young as eight to world class whitewater for the adrenalin junkie.


Editor’s Note: Cory is the son of Ronzel and Karen Boothe of Russett. He is a 1996 graduate of Calhoun County High School and is a teacher at Meadow Bridge Elementary, Fayette County. He resides near Summersville.)

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