New River Gorge Bridge

bridge spanning gorge
The New River Gorge Bridge

NPS photo/Louise McLaughlin

 

When the New River Gorge Bridge was completed on October 22, 1977, a travel challenge was solved. The bridge reduced a 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads and across one of North America's oldest rivers to less than a minute. When it comes to road construction, mountains do pose a challenge. In the case of the New River Gorge Bridge, challenge was transformed into a work of structural art - the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States.

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. The bridge was chosen to represent the state on the commemorative quarter released by the U.S. Mint in 2006. In 2013, the National Park Service listed the New River Gorge Bridge in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant historic resource.

 
A black and white image of the construction the New River Gorge Bridge
Construction of the New River Gorge Bridge

Bridge Construction

The West Virginia Division of Highways chose the Michael Baker Company as the designer, and the construction contract was awarded to the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel. In June 1974, the first steel was positioned over the gorge by trolleys running on three-inch diameter cables. The cables were strung 3,500 feet between two matching towers. Cor-ten steel, with a rust-like appearance that never needs painting, was used in construction.

 
two base jumpers against a blue sky
Two BASE jumpers on their way down.

NPS photo/John Chapman

Bridge Day

On the third Saturday of October, the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce hosts "Bridge Day." On this one day a year, the famous New River Gorge Bridge is open to pedestrians and a wide variety of activities—great views, food and crafts vendors, BASE jumping, rappelling, music, and more—draw thousands of people. Bridge Day is West Virginia's largest one-day festival, and it is the largest extreme sports event in the world.

The first official Bridge Day was celebrated in 1980 when two parachutists jumped from a plane onto the bridge. They were joined by three additional parachutists, and all five then jumped from the bridge into the gorge.Today, the event lures hundreds of BASE jumpers, cheered on by thousands of spectators. "BASE" stands for Building, Antenna (tower), Span (arch or bridge), and Earth (cliff or natural formation), the four categories of objects in which BASE jumpers jump from.

Looking for information on Bridge Day? While the bridge may be the crown on the Beautiful New River Gorge, Bridge Day is an event hosted by the Bridge Day commission. For more information, visit the Official Bridge Day website, or call the New River Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 927-0263.

Bridge Day 2022:

Bridge Day will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

Please note the following road closures:

On Saturday October 15th the New River Gorge Bridge (RT 19) will be closed to vehicle traffic from 7am to 5pm. Fayette Station Road (RT 82) will also be closed to vehicle traffic. The detour around the bridge involves traveling up TR 16 to Hawks Nest State Park and then east on RT 60 back to RT 19. For more information on event parking and shuttles, visit https://officialbridgeday.com/bridge-day-info/


The Bridge Day Commission works with the National Park Service and other law enforcement agencies in the area in regards to Fayette Station and Fayette Station Road closures. That area will not be accessible beginning on Friday, October 14 after 5:30 pm through Saturday, October 15 at 5 pm (assuming the highway and road are cleared as expected). Private boaters can use Fayette Station as a take out after 5 pm on Saturday, October 15th if arrangements are made for shuttling without leaving a car the night prior. Setting shuttle and leaving cars overnight will not be permitted during Bridge Day.


Teays Landing is privately owned land with a lease to others. They have decided to not allow access to Teays during Bridge Day, which includes not allowing shuttle cars to be dropped the night prior. About 2.5-3 miles downstream, Hawks Nest also has a river access location with parking and shuttle access on Friday and Saturday.

NOTE

Pets, bicycles, carts, and strollers are not permitted on the bridge during Bridge Day. Coolers, packages, and large packs or satchels will not be permitted on the bridge for security reasons.

 
The New River Gorge Bridge wrapped with fog
The New River Gorge Bridge spans the gorge filled with clouds.

NPS photo

Directions

The New River Gorge Bridge is located on U. S. Route 19, just north of Fayetteville, WV. It is easily reached from Interstates 64, 77, & 79 and from U. S. Route 60 (Midland Trail). It is approximately 30 minutes north of Beckley, 70 minutes east of Charleston, and 70 minutes south of Interstate 79. On the north side of the bridge, Canyon Rim Visitor Center provides outstanding overlooks of the bridge. If you have the time, consider driving the Fayette Station Road for some fantastic views from underneath the bridge.



 

Last updated: October 4, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 246, 104 Main Street
Glen Jean , WV 25846

Phone:

304-465-0508

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