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April 23, 2014  //  8:15PM EST   
 
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West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater
West Virginia White Water Rafting - WV Whitewater


 
River Gauges

Big Water, Big Numbers
      Early river gauges were a haphazard affair. Often, someone simply put a marker on a bridge abutment and thereafter, the river was said to be up or down so many feet from that thoroughly arbitrary level.
      While modern scientific measurements of river flow are much more precise, some of the old conventions remain in effect up to this very day. Ask your guide what the New River is running at today, and you're likely to be told that it's so many feet above the venerable marker at Fayette Station. In contrast, rivers where flow is carefully controlled from dams above the rafting area -- such as the Gauley - are usually reported in cubic feet per second, or simply "cfs" for short. Much more accurate, to be sure, but sometimes just as baffling.

A New River Every Day
      What's it all mean? For starters, the day's water level is not always as important as many people think. The New, for example, offers very different but equally exciting rides at levels as diverse as two feet, eight feet and - on really wild days - 10 or more. On high water days, you may simply float over a rapid that packs a huge wallop at two feet. Other new and exciting rapids may appear at high water, meanwhile, as the river cascades over a new set of giant rocks and shelves.
      During their rigorous training periods, new guides must learn how the river behaves at each one of these levels. It's no exaggeration to say that every trip down every river is unique - and that's one of the reasons veteran rafters return to the same West Virginia rivers year after year.

Expert Advice
      All that said, there's no denying that water flow is important. All outfitters check the river levels every day, and they'll be happy to interpret the day's stats for you. A number also have begun reporting water levels on their web sites, with accompanying explanation of the kind of conditions you'll be likely to find on the river each day. And if the Gauley's at 3,500 cfs, prepare to hang onto your hat!

  • View WV River Gauge Data





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