American Whitewater received the following open
letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. Also,
note that release information for the 2014 Gauley season is posted here.
August 14, 2014
An Open Letter to Gauley River Boaters
The rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area welcome you to the 2014
boating season. National Park Service (NPS) employees have been working, and are continuing to
work, on preparing the put-ins and take-outs, and other public use spots for upcoming Gauley
River National Recreation Area (NRA) visitation. We hope that this season will prove to be a safe
and spectacular one for every one.
The NPS reports few changes for the upcoming season over last year and hopes to continue to build
on successes and make improvements with respect to public facilities. This said, the Gauley
Tailwaters campground and the boat launches will continue to operate much like they did last year
without much change.
Camping at the Gauley Tailwaters campground is free of charge and is on a first come, first
served basis. There is a maximum of 8 people allowed in each campsite. There is a 2 tent, 2
vehicle maximum at each site. Quiet hours are from 10pm to 6am in the campground. Rangers provide
patrols and may register each campsite. Campers who bring their pets are asked to keep their pets
on a leash. The public boat launch at the Tailwaters is being improved by the park maintenance
staff prior to the boating season.
Mason’s Branch will continue to be managed as in the past. Due to the limited amount of
public land available at this access, the narrowness of the road, and the retained rights of both
the upstream and downstream adjacent landowners, the park, again, plans to manage vehicle access
on the road and in the parking lot. Parking at Mason’s Branch for private boaters is
offered in the upper parking lot until it fills. To help with parking, American Whitewater has
leased the Legg field above Mason’s Branch. The field will be available throughout the
Gauley season for private boater parking. Like last season, the rangers plan on opening Masons
Branch access road for unrestricted travel sometime in the afternoon, probably around 1 pm, or
whenever commercial bus traffic is through for the day.
Parking at Wood’s Ferry will be managed like it has in the past with few restrictions.
Boaters are asked to park close together in an organized fashion to take advantage of all the
available space and to create parking opportunities for others. Wood’s Ferry fills to
capacity on some weekends. Boaters should be aware that this may happen again on particularly
busy days and that parking is available but not unlimited.
A public take- out is available at Swiss since the NPS acquired the property from a private
landowner in 2011. Open for both private and commercial use, it is the only lower Gauley public
take-out within the recreation area. Parking is available to boaters in the field. The parcel,
both the field and boat launch remain closed to camping. The park offers camping opportunities at
the Tailwaters campground and there are other private and public campgrounds in the area.
NPS river patrol operations will continue as in the past. The NPS provides daily river patrols
during the scheduled releases with an emphasis on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and rescue.
The NPS river ranger patrol boat carries an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) in addition to
other medical supplies and they are available to provide both routine and emergency boater
services as they arise.
Park Rangers and local emergency personnel may request a reduction of the scheduled water release
from Summersville Dam in the event of an emergency. Such a request was made on two different
occasions during 2010. To help prevent boaters from being surprised by the sudden and unexpected
drop in water level, NPS river rangers will implement a sign and signal flag program to provide
visual aids along the river in the event of an emergency. The press release will be posted on the
American Whitewater and Gauley River NRA website.
As our Gauley season planning efforts progress, we will post information on our web page at
as well as continuing to communicate
with private boaters through partnering organizations such as American Whitewater and the West
Virginia Rivers Coalition. For this season as in the past, we appreciate all of the boater public
cooperation that helps to make the Gauley boating season the special time that it is.
Jeff West, Chief Ranger
New River Gorge National River
Gauley River National Recreation Area
Bluestone National Scenic River
Additional information on the Gauley River safety program is available here.