High water levels may cause concern for raft guides leading into “busiest weekend of the season”

West Virginia Adventures raft
West Virginia Adventures raft(WVVA)
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 4:19 PM EDT
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OAK HILL, W.Va. (WVVA) - With school out for summer and people off enjoying the long weekend, West Virginia Adventures in Oak Hill says this could be its biggest weekend of the season. But with current water level could cause some concern, according to raft guides.

“It’s kind of hung out around nine feet above the baseline of zero right now,” said Tristan Coots, raft guide and manager at West Virginia Adventures in Oak Hill. “I think we’re supposed to get some more rain, and there’s some water upstream from us that may come down that may flow, so I think it may jump up another foot or so.”

Since the beginning of the week, the water has risen seven feet, and, with rain expected into the weekend, raft guides may have to consider switching their routes for a more manageable ride. Once the Lower New River’s water level hits 12 feet above the base, rafts are no longer safe on the water.

“The big thing is, I mean, some things washout at high water. Some rocks that cause big waves, you know, are well under the water by 12 feet. But the thing is that the water is moving so much faster, so if you were to have someone out of the boat, getting them back in could potentially be a little more of a challenge.”

With these higher water levels, Coots says anything in the water can become a hazard, even trees; however, guides at West Virginia Adventures say they monitor the water’s status each day to ensure it is safe.

“Just checking ourselves- keeping each other accountable, you know, going over situations, you know, if we were to, you know, face these certain dangers in the water if someone were out of the boat keeping people safe. That is really the name of the game for us, and, I’m sure across all the other companies, is we want to make sure our people come, they have a good time with us and they are staying same through the whole day.”

West Virginia Adventures says rafters shouldn’t be scared to continue their trips this weekend. If water levels are too high on the Lower New River, guides can take rafters to rapids on the Upper New River or even the Gauley River. They say both offer great Class III and Class IV rapids.

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