Gauley Access and Camping Rules

Posted: 08/27/2006
by Ben VanCamp

Introduction

Upper Gauley Put-in Rules

Upper Gauley Take-out Rules (AKA Panther Meadow or Mason Branch)

Lower Gauley Put-in Rules (AKA Bucklick)

2002 Scheduled Releases

Introduction

At present, there are no federally-owned access points below Gauley Dam. This means that your public river access is provided at the whim of several benevolent landowners who have agreed to work with American Whitewater and allow you to trespass for a few weeks every year on scheduled release weekends.

Access could be lost to the Upper or Lower Gauley at any point, if enough bad eggs rock the boat. Please obey the rules, especially at Panther Meadow (Upper G. take-out) and Bucklick (Lower G. put-in).

The situation is so tenuous that the Park Service website notes:

At this time, the only public river access site is at the Tailwaters site, at the base of the Summersville Dam. Once launched, there are no public areas available for take-out: boaters must use privately-owned sites. These areas are primarily owned by commercial river outfitters. TO AVOID TRESPASSING, it is recommended that boaters contact the American Whitewater Affiliation (AWA) about current arrangements for taking out at Mason Branch, Bucklick and Swiss. The AWA, working with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the West Virginia Wildwater Association, has been successful in providing a shuttle service for boats (fee charged by AWA) taking out/launching at the Mason Branch location. AWA also rents a field near Mason Branch for vehicle parking. In the Swiss area, local landowners charge a small fee to park in their fields.

The lack of public river access and other facilities is due, in part, to the fact that this is a �new� unit of the National Park System. The NRA was just established in 1988, and the development of typical park service facilities is dependent upon the acquisition of land by the NPS. To date, approximately 20% of the acreage within the NRA boundary is federally owned. Since 1988, the NPS has followed a policy of purchasing land only from willing sellers - no condemnation of private land has occurred. Thus, it may be decades before a trail system is available because of the difficulty of purchasing enough land or easements on contiguous parcels to develop trails.


Running the Gauley is a blast, we want you to have fun now and in the future. These rules are in place to protect your future access opportunities. Please take a minute to read all the rules, then print them out and share them with your friends and paddling partners.

Introduction

Upper Gauley Put-in Rules

Upper Gauley Take-out Rules (AKA Panther Meadow or Mason Branch)

Lower Gauley Put-in Rules (AKA Bucklick)

Upper Gauley Put-in Rules

Superintendent Calvin Hite wrote American Whitewater on August 13th, 2002 to inform the boating community about rule changes at the Gauley River Dam (Upper Gauley Put-in). The new rules are designed to improve safety, reduce litter, and get a handle on illegal commercial sales in the camping areas. American Whitewater was consulted in the rule-making process and supports Superintendent Hite's management of the site.

The new rules for the Upper Gauley Put-in are:

The 19 sites in the existing campground will be clearly delineated so visitors and Rangers can easily recognize campsite boundaries.

A 20 foot section (width) of road will be kept open for emergency vehicle access to the helicopter landing zone near Initiation Rapid and access to the restrooms.

Camping regulations will be enforced.
-Max 2 camping units per site (RV's, tents, etc.)
-Max 2 vehicles per site
-Max 8 people per site
-Max camping of 14 days in a 28 day period
-Vehicle access will be limited to vehicles with registration cards.
Overflow camping will be managed for the first time this year.
-No overflow camping will be permitted behind the campground restroom along the corridor to the helicopter landing zone and Initiation Rapid.
-No overflow camping will be permitted in the area known as "The Pines" along the entrance road to the Gauley Tailwaters. This rule will be enforced to control litter, sanitation, unleashed pets, and other resource impacts.
Pets running at large have been an on-going problem. Pets are allowed; however the owners must follow these rules:
-Pets must be leashed and under the owner's control at all times.
-Pets tied in campsites or parking area must be on a leash no longer than 12 feet in length, and tied in a manner that is not disruptive to park operations or visitors.
-Pets must have access to shade and drinking water.
Commercial or business sales operations is prohibited without a special use permit from the Superintendent.
-Vendors may not display goods, advertise, or conduct sales within the Gauley Tailwaters.

Introduction

Upper Gauley Put-in Rules

Upper Gauley Take-out Rules (AKA Panther Meadow or Mason Branch)

Lower Gauley Put-in Rules (AKA Bucklick)

Upper Gauley Take-out Rules (AKA Panther Creek or Mason Branch)

Following the 2001 hay burning incident, in which some yahoos lit some hay bails on fire and tried rolling them around the field, American Whitewater has changed our rules for the Panther Mountain access point.

Since American Whitewater manages the site for an absentee landowner, we are very careful to meet her wishes to protect your long-term access to the Gauley River. Please obey the rules, they are non-negotiable.

If you see someone violating the rules, please ask them to change their behavior; their failure to change, could ruin everyone's access in the future.

-No Overnight Use Allowed
-No Camping
-No Fires
-Pets must be kept on a leash, and they must have ready access to food and water (Note that the Animal Control Officer is expected to be present to enforce this rule on release weekends)
-No Glass
-No Commercial Sales.
It will also help if everyone would take a minute to police the area and pick up any trash or other litter they see.

Introduction

Upper Gauley Put-in Rules

Upper Gauley Take-out Rules (AKA Panther Meadow or Mason Branch)

Lower Gauley Put-in Rules (AKA Bucklick)

Lower Gauley Put-in Rules (AKA Bucklick)

The majority of access to the Lower Gauley is across private property owned by various rafting companies or the railroad. Following the drowning incident in 2000, in which ambulances and other rescue vehicles could not get to the river, it became obvious that the parking situation needed to be better controlled.

-Obey the "No Parking" & "No Trespassing" signs.

-Do not block Peter's Creek Road with vehicles, boats, or other equipment.

-Do not unload vehicles in the road.

-Quickly move out of the way of emergency vehicles.

Since parking is limited, we strongly recommend leaving as many vehicles at the take out in Swiss as possible.
Ben VanCamp
49 Johnston Blvd
Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: 828-713-5825