To start, Mother Nature was with us this weekend. It was OCT but the weather said summer. 83 degrees, sunny, calm wind and low humidity both days!
This trip was for my brother's bachelor party. 2 days at ACE with 5 guys. Lower Gauley on Sat. and Zip Line on Sun. with meals included and lodging in the Ridge View Retreats #503.
We arrived around 11:30pm after a long car ride. The welcome center closes at 11:00pm but when we rolled up, our check-in info was on the board outside along with others. It was clearly marked and had a map and our keys in an envelope. There was an employee still inside and he seemed to be answering other guests questions. We followed the map to our Ridge View Retreat. The roads are mostly dirt and gravel but well maintained. We were in an SUV and had no problems. Motorcycles and low clearance cars may have had a problem. The roads close and around the welcome center are better. The Ridge View Retreat lodging was excellent! The place was either new or recently restored. 3 bedroom and 2 full baths. We never ran out of hot water. Beds were comfortable. Rooms each had a TV with cable and DVD, although we did not use them. Each room also had a "window" A/C. There is no furniture in the rooms other than the bed. No drawers, but this was not a problem. There isa small shelf and place to hang hangers. One bedroom did not have curtains but this was not a problem since the place is privately tucked into the woods. Appliances worked well. Kitchen is well stocked with everything you may need. Although we could not find coffee filters but plenty of other coffee stuff. The place has a nice sized deck with a shade area with table and chairs and a hot tub. The hot tub was clean and newer. The cover was in OK condition. It was perfect for after a long day of rafting with a few beverages! It also has a fire ring and picnic table next to it in the gravel parking area. We purchased firewood at the welcome center and had a good time sitting around the fire one night. The lodging experience here was flawless.
We rafted the Lower Gauley on Sat. We ate breakfast first and was pleasantly surprised at the meal experience. Everyone was friendly and the place was very orgainzed. They had our name on the pre-paid list and the buffet was great. Omlette station, biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, potatoes, eggs, etc. They also had a fruit bar with tons of fresh fruit.
Check-in for the raft trip was easy. There we met our guide, John. He was great. Clear in his instructions but still having fun! We watched a short intro video and then headed up to get geared up for the trip. The gear was well organized as well with friendly people. We did not rent wetsuits, but some people did. That seemed seamless too. After getting our gear, we loaded onto the bus. They have a fleet of blue painted school busses to transport rafters around. We had somewhere around 27 guests on our bus. The ride was fun with the driver playing the Eagles on the way.
The Lower Gauley trip was epic! We had an excellent guide in John. He was the lead boat out of 5 rafts. It really seemed like we had the best of the best, although John wouldn't tell you this. He was very clear in all instructions and explained details and escape routes of each rapid. He was friendly and joked around when he could. He was good at bolstering our confidence on the river. It looked like he had a good relationships with the other guides too. He said he had 13 years experience on the Gauley River. His confidence was contagious and we all felt safe the entire time. We will probably do the Lower Gauley a few more time before tackling the Upper Gauley, but when we do we will look for John to be our guide.
Kat was the videographer. She was great and we pre-purchased a DVD saving $10. The video was great and Kat's commentary was hilarious. Our boat was the highlight of the video with a big dump at the last big rapid of the day, Hell Hole. Thanks for that aggressive line John!
Lunch on the river was above expectations. Started with finger food of chips, veggies, dips, salsa, etc. A few minutes later we headed up to the grill area where the spread was impressive. Burgers, veggie burgers, chix breasts, tons of burger toppings, sides and deserts. Water and lemonade was plentiful.
Dinner back at ACE was just as good as breakfast but even more expansive. We ate very well that night. The pig picking was perfect! So good. Salad and desert bar rocked too.
8 Am Sunday morning was Zip Lining. Again easy check-in and friendly people. It was just our group and 2 fantastic guides. I wish I remembered their names. (Anastasia?) We took a short bus to the beginning of the course. The New River valley was fogged in but later cleared up. The course was awesome! Well built and safe. Equipment was in good shape also. They even had a helmet with a Go Pro mount on it, which we used. The course is 9 zips and 2 foot bridges. The plunge at the end was awesome! Dare to go off backwards!
I must also mention that all my communications before the trip were great. Every time I got timely responses. I used e-mail, phone and chat. The staff was very helpful and worked with me to build our ideal weekend.
At every turn we found cleanliness, friendly staff, friendly guests, great food and good times! We WILL be back!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.