Rafting FAQAnswers to the whitewater rafting questions we receive most often here in our Class VI Mountain River reservations office.
Question: What do you suggest as a starting point?Answer: It all depends on your comfort level! Read through the following descriptions and decide what sounds best for your style or level of adventure. The descriptions progress from easy to difficult.
Question: What Are My Responsibilites as a Raft Guest?Answer: Whitewater rafting and many of the other adventure activities we offer on our website occur in the outdoors and may be hours from advanced medical care. Each activity has inherent dangers. The State of West Virginia has a Whitewater Responsibility Act which includes guest responsibilities. Below, we also recommend the following:
- To be able to speak and understand spoken English or have someone in your group who can translate for you.
- To be comfortable in water while wearing a PFD (personal floation device). (PDF Maximum Chest Size is 52")
- To be able to swim (if you plan to raft the Upper Gauley River, the Lower Gauley River or the Lower New River from March thru June 15th).
- If you have a medical condition or are unsure whether you are physically able to participate on a whitewater rafting trip, consult your physician prior to your arrival date.
- If you make an on-line reservation, we recommend that you still contact our office prior to your arrival date by phone to confirm all details.
If you have any questions about our trips which can not be found on the FAQ pages, please feel free to call our reservation specialists (800) classvi (252-7784)
Question: What are the minimum ages?Answer: Class VI suggests minimum age limits, but considers factors such as parental participation and acknowledgment of risk, physical size, maturity, and water sport ability. Class VI reserves the right to raise or lower minimum ages according to individual circumstances. Refer to the minimum age listings.
Question: Who can do whitewater?Answer: Just about everyone, age 6 and older. No experience is necessary on sections of the New River. The Lower Gauley River is the next step up in difficulty and the Upper Gauley is in the top 10 commercially run rivers in the country. Though you are required to wear a whitewater commercial Type V personal flotation device, it is recommended that you know how to swim and understand the English language or have a translator accompany you. Look for the skill level classification on each activity page to match your interests. For the most fun, start off easy to build experience, or, better yet, make reservations for two or three days and build up to a more difficult level over time. The US Coast Guard-approved Type V personal flotation devices for whitewater are designed to fit a maximum 52" girth for adults and 40 lbs. minimum weight for children.
Question: Can you accommodate my medical condition?Answer: When you make your reservation, please inform the reservationists of any medical condition, physical disability, or food allergy that may require special attention or treatment. Obtain your physician's approval in writing to raft if you have one or more health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, pregnancy, epilepsy, heart condition, bee sting allergy, etc.
Question: Do We Need To Sign A Release Form?Answer: Before participating in any adventure activity, each participant is required to read and sign a release form, which includes a waiver of liability, an assumption of risk and an indemnification. If you or anyone in your group would like to see the release form in advance, you may download a copy of it off our website or we will be glad to mail or fax you a copy. Rafting Release Form PDF.
Question: Is my child too young to raft?Answer: Our recommended minimum ages have been developed through over 30 years of river running experience. The guidelines are intended to help the parent or guardian determine which trip would be best for certain ages. Since children (and even adults!) vary in maturity, size and strength, it is difficult to set a hard and fast rule. We want to be flexible and accommodating AND we want you to make an educated and informed decision.
Based on the assumption that you know your child best, please reflect seriously on your responses to the following questions when considering taking a river trip with a child that is younger than the recommended minimum age for that specific trip.
- Are you familiar with whitewater rafting?
- Have you rafted the proposed section of river or trip type?
- Are you comfortable and familiar with that trip?
- How will your child react emotionally if something happens to you?
- How will you react emotionally if something happens to your child?
- Is your child large or small for his or her age?
- Does your child tend to remain calm in stressful situations or prone to over-reacting?
- How well does your child interact with others?
- How well does your child follow instructions from adults outside of the immediate family?
- How many other adults and children will be in your group?
- Are you pushing for your child to go on this trip because you want to go or is your child the one that really wants to go?
Question: What do rapid classifications mean?Answer: Rapids and rivers are subjectively rated Class I through Class VI. The ratings depend on a paddler's experience, the volume of water in the river, drop per mile, watercraft and recovery ease.
Question: What kind of rafts do you use?Answer: Our fleet of rafts and duckies is 100% self-bailing. The raised inflatable floor causes the water to drain out the row of holes along the side of the floor, which means you don't need to bail water. Depending on the different sections of river, water levels and trip types, your river adventure can include the choices listed below. Although we predominantly run paddle rafts, oar rafts are also available when requested with a reservation. More information about raft types.
Question: What's the difference between a raft and a ducky?Answer: A raft is larger in overall size than a ducky. A raft has outer tubes that give it its shape and form while the thwarts (cross tubes) provide the structure. Depending on the size of the raft, there may be three or four thwarts. Depending on the trip type, there may be as few as three or as many as ten people in a raft. Class VI has chosen to purchase what we consider is the best-made, self-bailing raft on the market - Avon by Zodiac of North America.
A ducky is a cross between a raft, a kayak and a canoe. Like a raft, a ducky has inflated outer tubes, one or two thwarts and is self-bailing. Like a kayak, a ducky is much narrower than a raft and is propelled using a double-bladed paddle. Like a canoe, a ducky features an open cockpit. Duckies are designed for one or two paddlers. Navigating duckies through gentle to moderate white water is highly interactive and allows for a one-on-one experience with the river. Duckies are predominantly used on the upper reaches of the New River and at certain water levels on the Gauley River for both one day and multi-day trips.
Question: What should I wear?Answer: Flexible, secure footwear is required (choose old sneakers or river sandals). Comfortable swimwear, a ball cap or visor, sunglasses and sunscreen are optimum equipment. Running shorts worn over swimwear maximizes comfort for women.
In spring and fall, wear wool or polypropylene and a windbreaker over the swimwear, wool or Polartec socks under sneakers or wetsuit booties. For cold and wet weather, wear a wetsuit and paddle jacket or polypropylene, pile fleece, and a windbreaker. You may rent the wetsuits, booties and jackets from Class VI the morning of the trip.
Do not wear cotton items on the river, such as socks, sweatshirts or blue jeans. Cotton holds water and wicks warmth away from your body. More Information.
Question: When do trips leave?Answer: Your reservation confirmation tells you the time your bus will depart from Class VI's headquarters. Arrive at least 30 to 45 minutes prior to departure trip time to complete the release form, change clothes, pick up any necessary items from the Class VI store, and meet fellow guests on your trip. If you are planning to eat our buffet breakfast, we suggest arriving 60 minutes prior to your departure time.
Question: When's the best time to raft?Answer: Every season is different and offers something for everyone... Spring rains can bring high water to the New and Gauley for big water adventure. In the early spring, water temperatures are generally cooler along with the air temperature. Spring also brings a beautiful array of colors and blooms.
Summertime brings warmer air and water temperatures, and generally lower water levels than in the spring. This is a perfect combination for summertime fun, great for families and warm weather friends. Fall brings the world-class challenges of the Gauley when water is released on a scheduled basis from the Summersville Dam for the Fall Gauley Season. The diverse hardwood forests emerge in beautiful fall foliage with the peak color occurring around mid-October. The New River continues to run during the Fall and generally has summer-like water levels.