Southern West Virginia is home to world-class whitewater rafting

Q: Some friends took a whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia last year, and they were so enthusiastic about it we decided, along with two other couples, that we would have a go at it next summer. However my friend lost the literature, so now we have to start from scratch. I think they made the trip on the New River. I'd appreciate any information on outfitters and accommodations, and thanks.

A: Southern West Virginia is home to world-class whitewater rafting, and the New and Gauley Rivers are the top two in the state.

Your friends chose the New River, a good choice, because that's where the New River Gorge Bridge, the longest single-span steel-arch in the Western Hemisphere, is located. At 876 feet high, the spectacular bridge is the scene of Bridge Day on Oct. 20 when more than 200,000 people converge to take part in the daylong festival. BASE jumpers parachute off the bridge into the New River Gorge below, while rappellers descend on ropes like caterpillars beneath the mighty structure.

But back to whitewater rafting. There are at least a dozen or more whitewater rafting and float trip outfitters in Fayette County where the New River is located. I suggest that you go to or call (800) 847-4898 for a packet of information containing an official visitors' guide to Southern West Virginia. Then you can study the listings and make your choice.

In regard to accommodations, the guide also lists a number of bed and breakfast establishments as well as nearby motels. Last year my husband and I had an occasion to stay at one of the area B&Bs, the Red Star B&B, operated by Innkeepers Jackie Stack and Mark Kronenthal of Glen Jean, W.Va. Red Star, just three years old, is located just a couple of miles or so from where the outfitters are located so it's handy. It's a great B&B; Jackie's a gourmet cook so breakfast is a treat, and Red Star is pet friendly. The phone is (304) 465-2230 and the address is P.O. 29, Glen Jean, W.Va., 25846.

If your trip is in October, you might want to take in Bridge Day and the festivities that go with it. The actual date is Oct. 17, 2009, but the entire weekend features a calendar of events including a parade, a car show and a concert featuring Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice. You can contact these two web sites: and or call (800) 927-0263.

Send your questions at least sixweeks prior to travel to MadelynMerwin in care ofTravel,Daily Herald, P.O.Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006, or

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