American Whitewater received the following open letter to
boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will
keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley
The Park Service also shared information regarding
their flow alert program.
Enjoy your paddling season on this classic whitewater river. As
in past years, American Whitewater has leased the field above Masons Branch, also known as the
Legg field, for overflow parking.
August 20, 2018
An Open Letter to Gauley River Boaters
The rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area welcome you to the 2018
boating season. National Park Service (NPS) employees have been working, and are continuing to
work, on preparing the put-ins and take-outs, roads, 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 put-ins and take-outs and the Tailwaters campground will operate much like in the past with
At Masons Branch, parking is limited and fills to capacity nearly every boating day. The access
road will be closed when the parking lot fills up. American Whitewater continues to lease the
Legg field above Mason’s Branch. The field will be available throughout the Gauley season
for private boater parking when the available parking below fills up. The walking trail from the
river to the field has been checked and is clear of fallen trees and obstructions for those
walking or carrying boats uphill to their car parked in the field. Like in the past, the rangers
plan on opening Mason’s Branch access road for unrestricted travel sometime in the
afternoon, probably around 1 pm, or whenever the bulk of commercial bus traffic is through for
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. The upstream end of Wood’s Ferry
is used for dropping off and picking up boats and gear and not for parking during the day.
Unattended vehicles parked at the upstream end will be towed.
The public take-out at upper Swiss 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.
A commercial shuttle service operating under a permit from the NPS will again be available this
Gauley season for all of your shuttling needs on both the New and Gauley Rivers. To check it out
or arrange for a shuttle, contact Hills to Hills Tours and Shuttle at https://www.hillstohills.com/
or call 681-220-1146. This
shuttle service is the only one with NPS approval to operate commercially within the park.
Boaters should beware of other shuttle services charging fees, without a permit in place, and
otherwise operating in violation of park regulations.
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 will
provide patrols, will register each campsite, and will enforce camping regulations. Campers who
bring their pets are asked to keep their pets on a leash.
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. They are available to provide both routine and emergency boater services
as they arise. Additionally, river patrol rangers are continuing to work with the US Army Corps
of Engineers, the WV Division of Natural Resources, Norfolk Southern Railroad, our aeromedical
helicopter services, our local ambulance providers, our local fire departments, commercial
rafting companies, landowners, and others to pre-plan and prepare for boater safety.
Park Rangers and local emergency personnel may request a reduction of the scheduled water release
from Summersville Dam in the event of an emergency. 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.
In addition to Gauley season planning, the NPS is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of
approximately 305 acres of land on both sides of the Gauley River. The new land tract is situated
on both river right and left from roughly the Iron Curtain area just downstream of Insignificant
to just above Sweet’s Falls. This important conversion of private land to the public domain
protects the rugged, scenic, and natural qualities of the river and view sheds at Pillow Rock,
Lost Paddle, Iron Ring, and more.
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. For this
season as in the past, we appreciate all of the boater public cooperation that helps to make the
Gauley boating season safe, exciting, and memorable for everyone.
R. Duane Michael, Chief Ranger
New River Gorge National River
Gauley River National Recreation Area
Bluestone National Scenic River