New to rafting? Try the Upper New River!

Whitewater rafting is a blast from start to finish, but just because you’re a beginner doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on the New River. Here are some rafting tips:

Start your lesson on the Upper

Board your duckie or raft and get rolling on the Upper. Its 15 miles spill from Hinton to Cunard and pass by a little of everything: mining towns, ruins and stark natural beauty.

The Upper is peppered with enough pep to keep things intriguing. But those rapids smooth into long stretches of lazy pools, so there’s time for you to catch your breath or even go swimming.

Splish splash: meet the rapids

Upper New

Class 1-3 rapids are no problem for beginners. In fact, this portion of the river is wide and fairly shallow. Rapids slowly unfurl, so novices can try their hand at waves and foam without getting overwhelmed.

Most outfitters call the Upper’s rapids “friendly.” Even kids can paddle their own boats! Not bad, right?

Depending on your outfitter, you’ll probably run 11 rapids. Expect to meet waves like McCreery Rapids, a class 2 ride formed by crumbling canyon walls. As you drift along, look for the ghost town of Terry.

Grassy Shoals Rapids, a Class 3, has mesmerizing scenery. It rushes past an abandoned railroad and sweeps by piers from an ancient railroad bridge. In a way, they look like weathered fangs. Also, as you may have guessed, these rapids are named after the delicate reeds that grow along the banks.

Silo Rapids, another Class 3, also gets its name from nearby landmarks. Keep your eyes peeled for silos! A quarry company near the old mining town of Ephram used to store sand in them.


The Upper actually has 1 vigorous rapid that occasionally flirts with Class 4 status— a more demanding but exhilarating ride. Surprise, the Upper New River’s wildest rapid, creeps up on you. That’s because as you paddle upstream, it’s barely visible!

You’ll also have the thrill of spotting Pennbrook, an abandoned mining town, and the New River Gorge Bridge.

Which Upper rapid sounds like the most fun?