Good Gauley! Gauley Season is Here, Despite Earlier Flooding

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Earlier this summer West Virginia was hit hard with massive flooding, with both the Gauley and Meadow River watersheds flooded by heavy rains (the Gauley River set a flow record and Summersville Lake recorded the second highest lake level in its history). Downstream, nearly every boat launch and take-out was damaged.

But despite the flooding, the put-ins and take-outs at the Tailwaters, Mason’s Branch, Wood’s Ferry, and upper Swiss will all be open for Gauley season, and Gauley Fest sponsor American Whitewater is planning on a better Gauley Fest than ever.

“Over the last 35 years Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest river festival in the world,” says AW executive director Mark Singleton. “The festival is a showcase for American Whitewater and the top whitewater vendors in the boating community. It’s also the largest membership drive for American Whitewater and your support feeds our national river stewardship efforts. So put September 15-18 in your calendar and join us in West Virginia.”

Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest river festival in the world. It’s a showcase for American Whitewater and the top whitewater vendors in the boating community.

Registration for booth space purchases are available online or by phone,, with all proceeds from the festival supporting American Whitewater’s river conservation and access works throughout the nation.

New for 2016, there will be a suggested quiet camping zone behind the cabins as you enter the festival gate on your left.This year’s festival will also feature live entertainment, a whitewater marketplace, raffle, and a silent auction with outdoor gear.

“We encourage boaters to remember that American Whitewater is a non-profit organization and Gauley Fest is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” says Singleton. “All the money raised goes to fund our river stewardship projects.”

Entrance Fees

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: $40
Friday and Saturday: $30
Saturday only: $20
Dogs: $20 (on a leash and under control at all times)
Kids 15 and under: FREE

Info: 828-586-1930 (office), 828-507-1084 (cell). CLICK HERE

Schedule
Thursday, September 15, 2016

* 9:00 AM Vendor Registration opens
* 10:00 AM Volunteer Registration opens
* 12:00 PM Fesitval Campground opens
* 7:00 PM Set-up Crew Appreciation Dinner sponsored by Pies ‘N’ Pints
* 12:00 AM Quiet Hours begin (family campsites located behind cabins near main entrance)

Friday, September 16, 2016

* 6:00 AM Gauley River Release
* 8:00 AM Volunteer Registration opens
* 5:00 PM Festival Marketplace opens
* 8:00 PM No more vehicle access to inner festival area (must walk from parking area)
* 9:00 PM Special Feature: Dirt Bag Paddlers DJ Dance Party featuring TerrEnce Young & Allen Rockhouse
* 12:00 AM Quiet Hours begin (family campsites located behind cabins near main entrance)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

* 6:00 AM Gauley River Release
* 8:00 AM Volunteer Registration opens
* 8:00 AM 4-H Breakfast at the Dining Hall opens
* 2:00 PM Festival Marketplace opens
* 2:00 PM No more vehicle access to inner festival area (must walk from parking area)
* 5:00 PM AW Silent Auction opens
* 6:00 – 7:00 PM Live Music: River Funk
* 7:15 PM Festival Announcements
* 7:30 – 8:30 PM Live Music: River Funk
* 9:15 – 10:15 PM Live Music: Chestnut Grove
* 10:00 PM AW Membership Drive closes
* 10:00 PM Silent Auction closes
* 10:15 PM Raffle Drawings
* 11:00 PM Live Music: Chestnut Grove
* 12:00 AM Quiet Hours begin (family campsites located behind cabins near main entrance)

Sunday September 18, 2016

* 6:00 AM Gauley River Release
* 8:00 AM 4-H Breakfast at Dining Hall opens
* 9:00 AM Festival Breakdown and Cleanup begins
* 3:00 PM Camping and vehicle parking on site ends

Update on flooding (excerpt of letter to Gauley boaters here)

The Mason’s Branch access road was undercut, washed out, and damaged by the flash flooding and was closed to the public on June 25th for safety reasons. The park began emergency repair work on August 15th to get it into safe and usable condition by opening day. The repair is expected to be completed by September 4th. Parking is limited and fills to capacity nearly every boating day. 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 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. 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.

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.

To help with overflow parking at Mason’s Branch, American Whitewater leases the Legg field above Mason’s Branch. The field will be available throughout the Gauley season for private boater parking.