NPS offers rafting safety tips as Gauley season begins

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NICHOLAS COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — Gauley season officially returned in southern West Virginia, meaning thousands of people will visit the region to raft the Gauley River.

Dave Bieri is the District Supervisor with New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. He provided some safety tips for thrill-seekers.

“The main thing is wearing life jackets, and anybody who is going out with a licensed outfitter is going to do that,” Bieri said.

He said it is always important to listen to your raft guides if you plan on hitting the river. He explained why the Gauley is a bit more challenging than the New River.

“The Gauley River is just a faster-moving, stronger river. It is more technical with the rocks in the river and it’s rockier,” he continued. “There are undercut places and rocks that can be dangerous. It’s a little more of a technical river and the water dropping at a higher rate through there.”

Even after a rare incident, like the death that happened on Friday, September 10, 2021, Bieri said a tragedy like this is unusual.

“The people that lead, these are experienced in what they are doing, so they know what they are doing. It is extremely rare for something like this to happen. But things can still happen,” Bieri said.

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