Watersports guides in Kanawha Valley expecting busy season

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — From the Kanawha to the Elk River, watersports guides are getting ready for the fast-approaching season.

Businesses like Elk River Get-A-Way and Kanawha Watersports are relatively new, but they’re expecting a busy season.

Last year, Steven Grau of Elk River Get-A-Way kayak tours saw 800 people come through his Clendenin home to tube or kayak down the Elk River.

He’s built his home into a watersports camp.

“We have a large dock here where kayaks come in and tubing goes out, and it’s a real nice area, a picnic area, a lot of churches came in last year we did some high school graduation parties,” said Grau.

Grau says kayaking, tubing, and other water activities he hosts off of his property have ‘built-in social distancing’ making it the perfect activity during the pandemic.

“When the Governor opened up May 21st – from May almost all the way to the end of October it was nonstop, selling out and people having fun and tubing and kayaking,” said Grau.

Over on the Kanawha River in Winfield, Kanawha Watersports owner Ted Duty started his watersports recreation business at the height of the pandemic.

Still, he says also says it was busy.

“The good news was August and through the first two weeks of September we had a really good flow of business,” said Duty.

Both Grau and Duty say a lot of their customers are from out of state.

“These were people who wanted to take a family vacation in spite of covid but they weren’t going to spend the money to go to the Bahamas or to Florida, they said ‘we’re just going to do something local’ so they were from Maryland, from Ohio, from Pennsylvania…” he said.

And they say the calls are already coming in from repeat customers and new ones alike.

Kanawha Watersports and Elk River Get-A-Way tours will begin their season at the end of this month.

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