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Gauley River
The Gauley is run year-round by recreational boaters and from spring to fall by commercial rafting companies. During the majority of the year, boating is dependent on water level, which fluctuates dramatically depending on rainfall and the level of Summersville Lake. However, starting the Friday after Labor Day, the Army Corps of Engineers provides a series of twenty-two controlled releases for the express purpose of downriver recreation. These releases are collectively known as "Gauley Season" and are scheduled on six successive weekends, the first five of which are four-day weekends (Friday through Monday) and the last of which is just Saturday and Sunday. Typical release levels during "Gauley Season" range from 2,400 to 2,800 ft³/s (68 to 79 m³/s).

These releases are thanks to an act of the U.S. Congress, the first law passed in the U.S. to specifically mandate recreational whitewater dam releases. The releases bring millions of dollars annually to the local economy, as paddlers travel from all over the United States and overseas for this event.

The Gauley has two commonly-run sections: the more difficult 9.8-mile (15.8 km) Upper Gauley (Class IV-V), and the easier 11-mile (18 km) Lower Gauley (Class III-IV, V). Portions of the 5.5-mile (8.9 km) Middle Gauley (Class III+, IV) are commonly run in conjunction with either the Upper or Lower Gauley, and it is sometimes run alone as a milder alternative.
This ancient river begins in the mountains of North Carolina near the Tennessee state line, flows generally northwestward across the Blue Ridge Mountains, Great Appalachian Valley, Ridge and Valley Province, and the Allegheny Front in western Virginia and West Virginia, then cuts through the Appalachian Plateau (in the New River Gorge) to meet the Gauley River and become the Kanawha River in south-central West Virginia.The Kanawha then flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Much of the river's course is lined with steep cliffs and rock outcrops, particularly in its gorge in West Virginia.

This low-level crossing of the Appalachians, many millions of years old, has long been a biogeograpical corridor allowing numerous species of plants and animals to spread between the lowlands of the American East Coast and those of the Midwest; other unusual kinds of plants occur on the gorge's cliffs or rim-top ledges. Portions of this corridor are now also used by various railroads and highways, and some segments of the river have been dammed for hydroelectric power production.

The New River Gorge is not only quite scenic, but also offers numerous opportunities for white-water recreation such as rafting and kayaking. Many open ledges along the rim of the gorge offer popular views, with favorites including Hawks Nest State Park and various overlooks on lands of the New River Gorge National River.