Gov. Justice Designates Gauley Season as West Virginia’s Official 5th Season


Summersville, WV - Governor Jim Justice has designated an official fifth season in West Virginia: Gauley Season.

West Virginia’s Gauley River attracts thrill-seekers from around the country each year for six weeks after Labor Day when controlled releases from Summersville Dam create premier whitewater rafting conditions — just as rivers in the rest of the country are drying up for the year.

Gov. Justice attended the season-opening release today with members of West Virginia’s tourism community to make the announcement and mark the 50thanniversary of West Virginia’s whitewater rafting industry.

“Today is an exciting day. For years, we’ve talked about our four beautiful seasons, and I think we’ve been missing a major one – Gauley Season,” Gov. Justice said. “The rafting industry has served as the hub for tourism in our beautiful New River Gorge region for five decades, and I’m thrilled to be able to give it the recognition it deserves.”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of rafting in West Virginia, the Tourism Office commissioned a local company, Basecamp Printing Co., to create vintage-style postcards. The design was unveiled at today’s event. The postcards will be shared with rafting outfitters across the state and distributed by the Tourism Office to invite travelers to find their version of heaven on West Virginia’s rivers.

West Virginia’s Class V+ rapids are among the best in the world, and the state offers a picturesque backdrop for the rafting experience that is practically heaven-sent. Each year, more than 40,000 people travel to experience the rapids for themselves during the six-week period.

“Most destinations promote three or four seasons, but West Virginia can top that: We have five,” said Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “Whether you are looking for the high-adventure Gauley River or a family-friendly float down the New, we’ve got a one-of-a-kind experience waiting for you in Almost Heaven, West Virginia.” 

The first commercial rafting business in West Virginia was founded in 1968. Five decades later, rafting in the Mountain State has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry.

Gauley Season 2018 will include 23 scheduled water releases, with an extra hour of release scheduled for Sept. 15-17. Many rafting companies are offering exclusive deals in honor of Gauley Season. Plan your rafting excursion today at

To download a high-resolution image of the commemorative rafting postcard, click here.
To view video from the press conference click here. 

Contact Information

Butch Antolini


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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