It is officially Cheat Season!
If you have never experienced the Cheat River, you are really missing out. This river is a hidden gem in West Virginia, tucked away in the sleepy mountains of Preston County.
It boasts some beautiful scenery, with sheer cliff faces and waterfall run-offs, not to mention world-class whitewater. Before it was known as the Cheat, it is believed that the Delaware Indians name for Cheat was reportedly Ach-sinha-nac, meaning “stony river.” Some say the name Cheat came about because of the free-flowing nature of the river. It can be 6 feet one week and 2 feet the next, effectively “cheating” you out of some great water. No one knows how the name came about for sure, but it sounds good, right??
The Cheat River has come along way over the years. From floods to acid mine drainage, this wonderful river has experienced some dark years. The coal boom took its toll and the river was heavily polluted. That’s when Friends of the Cheat (FOC) came about. This wonderful organization, whose mission is to restore, preserve, and promote the Cheat River, led the charge to clean up the Cheat. They also work to protect the entire Cheat River watershed. All their hard work has been quite successful and the river has been recovering nicely. The river has been removed from the list of impaired rivers in West Virginia. The Cheat River Canyon experienced one of the largest steps towards conservation in 2014 when 3,836 acres of the Canyon were purchased by The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy for preservation, and ultimately, public use and enjoyment. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will manage the Canyon as a component of its Wildlife Management Area system.
Cheat River Festival
Friends of the Cheat (FOC) created a festival to celebrate and promote the Cheat River in 1995. The Cheat River Festival, held the first Saturday in May (this year it will be May 2), has become the main fundraiser for the FOC. The festival boasts a great collection of Appalachian bluegrass, interesting vendors, including an Art Market, and lots of tasty foods. The festival grounds are adjacent to the put-in for our Cheat River tours in Albright, WV.
Friends of the Cheat is always looking for volunteers to help them pull off this awesome festival! Volunteer perks include free festival admission, free on-site camping, free food and drinks at the hospitality cafe, volunteer discount on the Cheat Fest T-Shirt. And if do decide to volunteer, we will offer you a special rate of $68 per person for rafting on our Cheat Canyon trip Sunday (advanced reservations required). Just be sure to show your volunteer wristband at check-in.
We have also created some awesome rafting packages to allow you to spend the weekend enjoying the best this part of Appalachia has to offer.
Lower Yough & Cheat River Package: $140
Raft the Lower Yough on a Guide Escorted tour Saturday and experience the thrills this Class III section of river offers. Then Saturday afternoon head down to Albright to attend the Cheat River Festival. We will even cover your festival admission! On Sunday raft the Beast of the East – the Cheat River Canyon. A day on the Cheat will remind you the importance of preserving this river.
Upper Yough & Cheat River Package: $215
With this high adventure package you will be experiencing the best of Class V rafting on the East Coast. Tackle the Ultimate Challenge that is the Upper Yough on Saturday. Then Saturday afternoon head down to Albright to attend the Cheat River Festival. We will even cover your festival admission! On Sunday raft the Beast of the East – the Cheat River Canyon. A day on the Cheat will remind you the importance of preserving this river.
Be sure to mention you saw these packages on our blog to secure your discount and festival admission. If you can’t make the festival, but would like to learn more about supporting Friends of Cheat, consider purchasing a membership.