New River, West Virginia
Credit: Richard I'Anson / Getty Images

The Lower New courses 17 miles through an 800-foot gorge and sports the biggest commercially run whitewater east of the Rockies. May and June feature the biggest flows when the river rates a solid Class IV-V, but Brian Campbell of outfitter Adventures on the Gorge actually prefers the slightly lower flows of mid-summer, when the river drops to Class III-IV. "At lower levels you can charge through the biggest hits on the river, which you have to avoid in May for safety," he says. "Its more fun." In addition to half-day raft trips, the company also offers one- to five-day kayak clinics that start on a lake and graduate to the milder Upper New. Campbell says that the Appalachian’s cold, wet winter should ensure strong flows this summer.