Where Does the Water Come From? Your Gauley River Questions Answered

Other than rafting – what is the Gauley River known for?  Where does that water come from?  And how did those dam releases get started? These are all questions that come up on your general rafting trip or at any National Park Service Visitors Center.

Where does the water come from? The Gauley is made up of waters from four other rivers – the Williams, Cranberry, Cherry and Meadow Rivers.  Three streams converge on Gauley Mountain in Pocahontas County to give it its start.  Gauley waters come from five different West Virginia counties.

How did the dam release get started? Congress actually designated that the Summersville Dam releases begin.  This was the first law passed in the United States to mandate recreational whitewater dam releases.

Was there a lot of Native American activity around here?

  • According to the National Park Service, the oldest artifacts from the Gauley and New River Gorge area are Clovis points. Made more than 11,000 years ago over much of North America, these intricately-shaped stone spear points were used by ancient nomadic hunter-gatherers, Paleoindians, to kill mammoth, mastodon, and other Ice Age creatures.  But agricultural based pieces from a later inhabited period remain as well.  It is documented that these were ancestors of the Cherokee and Shawnee nations.
  • The Mary Draper Ingles story indicates that Mary made her courageous pilgrimage home right along where the New meets the Gauley -- after capture by the Shawnees.
  • The Sandstone Visitors Center has a Native American exhibit and a sample Clovis point.


What else is the Gauley known for? While whitewater rafting is her claim to fame – insiders know that the Gauley offers some amazing natural scenery and is also perfect for hiking, camping, and climbing.  Fishing enthusiasts also love her musky, trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass.

Got a Gauley question?  Ask away.