How to Rock the Gauley Festival: Step 1 – Get Ready!

How to Rock Gauley Festival Step 1: Get Ready!

It’s that time of year again! If you’re excited to hit the Gauley Festival and just ready to pack up, drive in and figure it out.. well that’s certainly what most fest-goers will be doing so be my guest and have fun!


BUT – if you want a few tips to make the most of your West Virginia experience (and avoid a few of the pitfalls) listen up, here ya go:

Step 1: Preparation
A. The town of Summersville, WV is rated one of the ‘Top 5 Speed Traps in the USA’ so before you pack make sure your tail lights, blinkers, and headlights are working plus that your tag is current and you are ready obey ALL traffic laws within a 60 mile radius of the festival. Like to have beer at the take-out before driving home? Considering bringing some un-taxed party favors to sip on and share after dark? Reconsider. Gauley Fest is a time to stay squeaky clean on the road AND in camp so we can all donate to American Whitewater instead of adding to Summersville’s million dollar traffic court revenues.

B. The shuttle roads on the Gauley are poorly marked and gravel, the parking and festival site is dirt, and heavy rains are common this time of year. Make sure to download shuttle maps to your phone in advance, check tread on your tires, consider the more-rugged of your vehicles and check that your spare is serviceable so you can spend as much time on the river as possible.

C. You are not the only one coming, so expect a line-up at every business nearby. That’s camping, hotels, restaurants and gas stations. Reserve your lodging or camping in advance, research backup restaurants in case the Cathedral Cafe is full in the morning and Pies and Pints has a 2 hour wait (Secret Sandwich Society and Gumbos are great, Tudors and Bob Evans better than you expect). There are SO many great options in the area you would hate to end up eating at Shoney’s or McDonalds every meal. Buy Local!


D. If you like to paddle, and like to sleep – consider camping somewhere besides the festival grounds. Yes this means you will pay more and can’t drink any free beer at the festival but it also means you’ll be rested up and ready for Pillow while so many others are still laying on theirs. Tons of hotels but plenty of cabin rentals and BnB’s / Air BnB’s nearby.

E. There is so much to do in this area BESIDES just paddle, consider taking a bike for the Arrowhead Trails of New River Gorge National Park and some climbing gear for the Summersville Lake sport routes. a SUP for Summersville Lake’s deep-water free climbs, or venture out to zip along one of the many ‘canopy tours’ at ACE or AOTG. There’s even a Bi-plane (Wild Blue Adventure Company) tour that can take you over the New or Gauley – perfect for those who want to see the river but not get into it.


F. Google really IS your friend when you travel! Just remember to start using it before you are one of 1000 iPhones trying to connect to the internet at the same time in central West Virginia.

That’s it for now – next time we’ll talk about the paddling…


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