The Great Gauley Festival


Gauley Festival is one of my favorite annual events held on the Famous Gauley River in West Virginia. It is a high volume, dam release river, that flows on schedule in the fall.

It consists of 3 main runs. The Upper, The Middle and the Lower. The Upper is considered the hardest run (grade 4-5) and starts at the Dam. It consists of many big water rapids and great play but many infamous undercuts, so make sure to follow someone down until you know where you are going! Two of the big rapids on the run Pillow and Sweets are accessible by foot and always have their banks filled with enthusiastic crowds to enjoy the entertainment of great lines and carnage.


The Gauley Festival gives an opportunity to explore the river with more like minded people than you could imagine in one watershed. The river becomes packed with souls in and on every sort of craft you could ever imagine! Kayak, Canoe, SUP, squirt boat, raft, creaturecraft…the list goes on!

If the Upper run is too difficult, you can opt to run the middle which is an easier class 3 run or the lower which also has great play but is only class 3-4.


After you have had an epic day running the river and are on your way back out in the car/vehicle of choice most people call by Fat Eddies at the top of the dam to refuel their engines with some burgers and fries or the famous Fat Eddies Blizzards!
Then onward to the festival grounds where there are many whitewater booths with competitions, giveaways, food and beer.


From here the good times flow for the rest of the night!
A highlight being Saturday night when the Jackson Team climbs on top of the Jackson RV every half hour to throw out free swag with numbers on them and at the end of the night the lottery is drawn and whoever has the winning numbers goes home with a free boat of their choice! And the crowd goes wild!



If you have never made it to one, put it on your bucket list, as it is really a brilliant festival for any keen boater!

Catch ya out there!
Courtney Kerin

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