5 rapids that outshine any rollercoaster

These quirky Class III-IV rapids are nature’s answer to the amusement park. The New River Gorge’s famous whitewater waves have distinct personalities. From playful to hyperactive, they’ll keep you paddling back for another round!

Check out these unmistakable rapids:

1. Fuzzy Box of Kittens

Bridge Day weekend rafting packages

Upper Gauley River, Class III

Intermediate paddlers should try this rider. Climb aboard and get playfully tossed around by frisky wave trains, or a series of whitecaps.

Kittens’ signature touch is its unusual hole, which bats kayaks around like a corkscrew. Look for it after you ride the wave trains. A steady pool wraps things up, so take advantage of a breather before riding more of the Gauley.

2. Greyhound Bus Stopper

Lower New River, Class III

This New River crowd-pleaser bobs just like a carnival ride. A submerged ledge curls and folds water on the surface, so you’ll pop around on smaller boats.

As you approach Greyhound, you’ll spy a hole large enough to swallow a certain bus. Brace yourself for the zippy water just before the rapid and uneven pour-overs, too.

3. Pure Screaming Hell

Lower Gauley River, Class IV

Known as one of the world’s top 10 whitewater runs, the Gauley River hoards one bone-shaking rapid after another. If true adventure is your goal, take a look at Pure Screaming Hell.

This expert-level wave keeps things interesting with a lengthy start and treacherous holes or hydraulics, which happen when water flows back towards a submerged object, creating tricky undertows.

Take particular care with the appropriately-named “Hell Hole”— it likes to pin boats in a nose-dive pinch. Get spit out for a real adrenaline high!

4. Miller’s Folly

Lower New River, Class IV

This New River rapid keeps things entertaining with a speedy chute, a high-volume area between barriers.

If you decide to ride Folly, aim for the center channel. You’ll get flushed out on a powerful wave train— always a bonus. But be aware of enormous undercut boulders and holes like Bloody Nose. This one waits just beyond Folly, so be alert.

5. Dudley’s Dip

Lower New River, Class IV

With undercut rocks and pour-overs, this New River wave will keep those paddles busy!

In fact, Dudley has a considerable appetite. It once demolished a wooden flat-bottomed bateau in 2004! But if you’re an experienced rafter in a modern craft, you should do fine.

As you ride the rapids, remember to scan the banks for 2 ghost towns: Nuttallburg and Kaymoor.

Which rapid is your favorite?

Sam Babcock