The Dries is a surfers paradise although at high water levels you will have to catch some of the waves on the fly. About 2/3 of the way down the river you will find a long class III+ rapid that ends in a big pool. At the bottom of the pool are several huge boulders. This is Landslide rapid. There are 5-6 slots between the boulders. The cleanest slots are the 2nd and 3rd from the right. The leftmost slots have a potential for pinning and should be avoided.
American Whitewater negotiated scheduled releases on the New River Dries, two in March and 7 in late June through August, and the relatively low flow of 2200-2500 cfs. These releases will not occur if flows are above or below certain flow thresholds. More information on releases is available at https://www.safewaters.com/facility/54Putin: Just above or below the Cotton Hill bridge on Rt. 16.Takeout: Along Rts. 16 & 60 above Gauley Bridge. Perhaps the best spot to take out is on river right by the bigs rocks just below the railroad bridge. There is a short path from the top of the rocks to the road with parking for a few cars. There is additional parking a bit upstream and across the road by a nice waterfall.
Well, once again, Almost Heaven "Wet Virginia" was the place to be this past weekend, as myself and the usual suspects had an awesome time surfing the New River Dries.
I love living 10 mins away from the dries ....and the parking lot at the waves has a feeling about it....sort of what I imagine the parking lot for "pipeline" is to surfers. Everyone is just so amped to be paddling the best whitewater in the US, and we love sharing it with each other. So much so that, Scott Lindgren and Tanya Shuman flew in from Cali when they heard the waves would be in for a few days. So, myself, Clay Wright, Shane Groves, Bryan Kirk, Jimmy Blakeney, Chris Gratgmans, Little Dave, BJ & Katie Johnson, Tanya Shuman, Anna Levesque, and a few others had a great time surfin it up, and shooting some film....
The usual waves that show up on river right at about 40-55,000 cfs were the bomb as usual, but we were also able to surf a huge, building and crashing 15-20' 'er in the middle of the river. This thing was abso-friggin-lutely HUGE, and so were some of the moves being thrown. Big pan-ams, flipturns and helixes were the main course on the endless freestyle menu, and lots of footy was shot. Look for updates soon on www.prokayaker.tv (Jimmy Blakeney's site) as well for some of the best shots on Scott Lindgren's new flick "Burning Time".
If you haven't had the chance to surf some huge waves, the dries is where it's at. Look for levels for the New at Thurmond to be 28,000 cfs-38,000 cfs for the wide middle wave, 40,000-60,000 for the waves on river right.
Also, the Bigwheel was incredible! So smooth, and FAST! Definatly my favorite boat, and Shane has already been making it better from what I hear!
It's late, and I'm goin surfin in the AM, so until the next report.....
FYI gauge is wrong for rafts, 10' is small, 12' is medium, 14'+ is getting burly.
low flow dries gauge info
5 ft is a good level for a low flow run, 4 ft is too low- it requires walking or wading your boat in a couple of places
low flow runs are considered class III with class IV consequences because some of the slots are blind and some undercuts are in play.
We paddled the Dries last weekend at lower flows. The approach to Landslide rapid has changed some with some shoals appearing on the river right above the slots river left. Beware of the wood and some shifting of rocks in the three far left slots.
FYI, the gauge reading here on AW is incorrect. A 3.85 level means there is no water in the dries and should be considered paddling zero. Anything above that indicates there is water flowing in the dries.
Just to let everyone know when the dries are 9 ft there is a hole on river left below the put in that is loopable and can def throw ends. Little sticky but hey thats half the fun.
The above gauge is the converted gauge for Fayette Station. The base for the conversion is Thurmond which is several miles upstream of the Dries.
Another way to guesstimate the level is to take the flow at Kanawha Falls and subtract the level at Gauley above Belva. Then subtract the maximum amount diverted by Hawk's Nest Dam (10,000 cfs). Be aware that sometimes the dam does not divert the maximum amount.
The minimum flow for the Dries is about 1,000 cfs. The maximum is dependent on your skill level. As the flow approaches and goes above 5,000 cfs big holes develop and the run becomes much more difficult.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Hawks Nest Powerhouse Fishing Access
Hawks Nest Powerhouse
Powerhouse Access Sign
Gate to Road Accessing Dam
Cotton Hill Fishing Access
New River Dries at Beckwith Road
Hawks Nest Dam
Hawks Nest Reservoir
Stage to CFS conversion, High Flow
Stage to CFS conversion, Low Flow
New River Dries Put In at 1000cfs
Flow Study participants at Landslide Rapid, 500cfs
Rafting through the Boulders
Creeky optional line at 500cfs.
New River Dies Put-In
New River Dries and Hawks Nest Dam
Surfing a fun wave at lower water
Mile Long - Low Water Bottom of Rapid
Low Water Mile Long Rapid - Chad Foreman
Why The Dries are Dry
Landslide at Low Water
New River Dries
Drys put-in wave
Air Blunt on Put-in Wave
Starting the Helix
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
On Friday, American Whitewater formally requested several studies as part of the relicensing of the Hawks Nest Dam, which significantly de-waters the New River Dries in West Virginia. In addition to our study requests, we offered evidence of the hydropower project's significant effects on whitewater recreation.
The first of a series of flow study dates have been rescheduled for 28 and 29, 2013 due to excessive flows predicted this week. The study aims to assess the recreational flow needs for whitewater paddling on the New River Dries in West Virginia. This flow study was requested by American Whitewater and other stakeholders, as part of the relicensing of the Hawks Nest Hydroelectric Project. Paddlers with suitable skills are encouraged to sign up to participate.
Paddlers that run the New River Dries (WV) between now and July 31, 2014 are encouraged to fill out a flow study survey after each day on the water. Submitting surveys will add important data to the Extended Whitewater Evaluation Study and will greatly help American Whitewater and others negotiate improved flows for the New River Dries.
Yesterday, the power company that de-waters the New River Dries with the Hawks Nest Dam proposed zero dam releases to mitigate their impacts on whitewater recreation and naturally variable flow patterns. American Whitewater will be offering a balanced response to this extreme proposal that outlines the value and potential for restoring significant recreational and ecological values to the New River.
If you would like to see flows restored to the New River Dries, now is a very important time for you to let federal regulators (FERC) know your thoughts. The power company has proposed zero releases, and no vehicular access to the top of the run in their Draft License Application. American Whitewater is asking for releases and access, but it is important for individual paddlers to make their voices heard too. Send your comments in no later than 10/31/15.
Immediately downstream of the New River Gorge, a beautiful 5.5-mile section of the New River has been dewatered for generations. Paddlers call this reach the New River Dries, and know it for the huge surf waves that form at high water. The Hawks Nest hydroelectric project removes 10,000cfs from the Dries, leaving only 100cfs except when high flows overwhelm the dam. The relicensing of the dam offers a once-in a lifetime opportunity to restore flows to the New River. American Whitewater filed comments today with federal regulators outlining our vision.
Federal decision makers are accepting comments on their plans for the New River Dries until January 8th. American Whitewater has proposed a schedule of 41 annual releases that will be great for the river, paddlers, and other stakeholders. Individuals are encouraged to comment, as are clubs and businesses.
On Friday American Whitewater filed an appeal of the State of West Virginia’s flow and access prescriptions for the spectacular New River Dries. The State’s prescriptions would only restore an average of 3 or 4 days of flows sufficient for paddling as mitigation for the over 240 days lost to hydropower operations. In addition the state would require access 1.2 miles into the 5.4-mile run, foreclosing vehicle-based access on 22% of the run. The prescriptions will last for 30 to 50 years unless our appeal is successful.
American Whitewater reached an important milestone this week in our efforts to restore flows and public access to the New River Dries. Earlier this summer American Whitewater appealed a State decision to provide only 3-4 paddling releases annually, and vehicular access that required a 1.2-mile hike to the put in at the dam. On Tuesday the State issued an improved decision following over a month of negotiations, and in exchange American Whitewater withdrew our appeal. The New River Dries is a big, beautiful, ancient river with vast recreational potential, and its fate is now in the hands of federal regulators at FERC.
River enthusiasts will soon have new paddling opportunities on West Virginia's New River. Federal regulators issued a new 47-year license for the dam that dewaters the spectacular 5.5-mile New River Dries in the final days of 2017. The license requires significant new recreational and environmental enhancements in a river reach that has suffered from water withdrawals for well over half a century. American Whitewater played an active and leading role in securing these outcomes.
Last week, the first ever pulse flow releases were scheduled on the New River Dries, located near Gauley Bridge, WV. These releases were designed to support intermediate level whitewater paddling and to restore natural flow variability to a river reach that has been largely dewatered by the Hawks Nest Hydropower Project for generations. The releases are a requirement of the new 47-year federal dam license issued in late 2017. The releases will occur in March, June, July, and possibly August of this and future years. American Whitewater played a lead role in negotiating these releases.
Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)
Get your groove on baby! This year Gauley Fest is a 60’s themed event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. To memorialize that historic event we are flashing back to another era for a 60’s throwdown. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.
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 River. 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.
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