As rafting companies wait for guidance from the state to reopen, Adventures CEO talks new protocol

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Typically by this time, rafting season has already begun in Fayette County. However, as other tourism amenities like the Hatfield-McCoy Trails receive a reopening date, Governor Jim Justice had no direct answer on where rafting fits in the phases. 

“All I can tell you is, we’re watching it, we’re trying to move forward as cautiously as we possibly can,” he said. 

In the meantime, Adventures on the Gorge CEO Roger Wilson has been working closely with the health department and the state’s guidelines to come up with a plan.

If rafting companies are permitted to open this year, at first, it certainly will not look like what it usually does.

Compared to their usual 52, Wilson says only 24 people will be allowed on a bus. 

Boats will only be allowed to carry eight people. Although face coverings will not be required on the raft, they will be required elsewhere. 

“Everyone will have to wear a face mask in the bus. If you want to bring your own mask, and when I say a mask, a buff will do just fine. All of the guides will be wearing buffs,” Wilson said.  

Guides will be making sure everyone is distancing in the raft as best as possible, but they will not be sacrificing general rafting safety. 

“If someone falls out of the boat, we’re going to pull you back, so yes, that’s very contact. Yes, they’ll be a lot of water around, but you know, there’s certain things that we just can’t mitigate,” Wilson said.  

Equipment will be thoroughly sanitized in between trips and users for all of their activities.

Adventures is hopeful for a Memorial Day start and even more hopeful for a normal Gauley season, but for now, it is a waiting game. 

“We’re negotiating untraveled, unpredictable water. Fortunately, that’s what we’re good at here,” he said. 

When it comes to their restaurants, they are only planning on opening up Smokey’s when they get the go ahead for rafting.

Smokey’s will be opened to a limited capacity with all of their windows down. Their pool will remain closed.

On Thursday night, Wilson hosted an online seminar to answer questions. You can check out the full video by clicking here. 

Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.