River-rafting trips in October

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of April 2-8, 1998
Choosing an adventurous vacation
River-rafting trips in October
Hiking to Canada's highest waterfall
Camping out in style at Yellowstone

River-rafting trips in October
Question: Are there any whitewater rafting trips still running in October? If so, where, and by whom?

Jud Lange
Carmel, New York

Adventure Adviser: Come October, West Virginia's Gauley River is where it's at. Not only are the trees burning with flaming shades of yellow, orange, and red, but back in 1988 Congress mandated that for 22 days between Labor Day and late October, Summersville Dam at the mouth of the Gauley must release 2,800 cubic feet of water per second just for rafters and kayakers. The guaranteed water flow is key because it ensures a heart-in-your-throat ride. In a 28-mile stretch of river, which takes two days to complete, you'll run into more than 100 class III, IV, and V rapids. Just as you think you'll be able to relax, you'll round another bend in the river roiling with whitewater — be sure to watch out for Insignificant, some gnarly rapids at the beginning of the trip that can suck you under like driftwood.

A few dozen companies run trips on the Gauley during the October "Gauley Season," but I'd start with Class VI River Runners (800-252-7784). They offer one- and two-day trips that range in price from $111 to $274. The price includes all gear (wet suits, PFDs, paddles, helmets, windbreakers), camping equipment, and, for riverside cooking, gourmet meals. Often they are booked years in advance by eager river rats, so be sure to call soon to reserve a spot.

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