If you haven’t heard of it before, Bridge Day is West Virginia’s largest and wildest adventure event where hundreds of base jumpers jump over 850 feet off of the New River Gorge Bridge into the valley below. It’s the only day of the year that they close down this bridge so that thousands of people can watch these jumpers who come from all over the world catapult into the Gorge.
Here’s everything you need to know before you attend Bridge Day!
This was trip was sponsored by the West Virginia Tourism Office. As always, all opinions are my own.
1. First rule of Bridge Day: No, you don’t have to jump
When most people first hear about Bridge Day, their immediate thought is something along the lines of “oh my gosh, I could never jump!” What they don’t realize is that the vast vast majority of people who attend Bridge Day do not actually jump, but instead watch a small group of a few hundred jumpers. Bridge Day gives you as much adrenaline as you could possibly get without actually jumping!
2. Bridge Day takes place on the second-highest single-span arch bridge
Bridge Day takes place on the New River Gorge Bridge, which is the 3rd highest bridge in the United States and 13th highest Bridge in the world. From the center, it is 851 feet from the ground, which is pretty darn high! That being said, if you are very afraid of heights, this is something to consider if you’re thinking of attending Bridge Day to watch the jumpers.
3. There are multiple spots to watch from
Part of what makes Bridge Day so fun is that there are many different vantage points to watch it from, and if you are afraid of heights, you luckily have some different options to consider. The most popular spot is to watch from the top of the bridge, as this is a crazy spot to watch the jumpers catapult into the gorge from. If you’re incredibly bold, you can also do the Bridge Walk, which gives you a unique vantage point as you are harnessed in and walk through the tresses underneath the bridge. However, both of these involve great heights, so if you’re afraid of heights (or not!) I’d suggest heading down to the base of the Gorge and watching the jumpers land.
4. Make sure to get your tickets in advance to ride the Into The Gorge Shuttles
Whether you’re afraid of heights or not, traveling down to the base of the Gorge is a fun and unique way to get a different vantage point of the entire event. Unlike watching from the top where the anticipation is high as you watch them jump and then fade down into the Gorge, when you watch from the bottom it’s a more tranquil experience to see the parachutes float down and land. To watch from the landing strip is quite a long walk (4+ miles) from the top of the bridge though, and it’s worth buying a $25 shuttle pass ahead of time so that you can take a 30-minute bus down into the Gorge and spend as much of your day watching the event itself as possible.
5. There are great food options at Bridge Day
Bridge Day blocks off the highway surrounding the New River Gorge Bridge to open it up for vendors that sell delicious food from all over the world. We saw a variety of vendors including Thai, Greek, Indian as well as many typical fair type tents selling roasted nuts and sweet treats. There must have been several hundred vendors, so it’s definitely worth bringing some cash to grab lunch at Bridge Day and partake in the fun!
6. The night before, don’t miss the Taste of Bridge Day
If you’re wondering where to eat the night before you attend Bridge Day, there’s another fantastic food event called the Taste of Bridge Day which showcases the local restaurants’ best dishes. It’s a great way to get excited for the big event and is a great atmosphere with live music and tons of locals.
7. If you actually do want to jump, a professional can take you
I’ve put this pretty far down on the list because honestly, I don’t think this applies to many people, but if you are interested in joining in on the action and jumping off the bridge yourself, you can have a professional take you! There are quite a few rules as to who can actually jump on their own, and you need a lot of experience to qualify, but if you’d still like to do jump it is possible with a tandem professional.
8. If you want to get in on the action without jumping, you can do the bridge walk
Bridge Walk, a catwalk beneath the New River Gorge Bridge, is actually something that is available all year long. However, doing it during Bridge Day gives you an exceptional view of the base jumpers and a more calm experience than a traditional Bridge Walk. Since the bridge is open only to foot traffic for the event, there’s significantly less movement and it’s a much steadier walk than if you did it any other day of the year.
9. You can also zip line from under the bridge
Looking for all of the adrenaline of Bridge Day without actually jumping? During Bridge Day (and this day only) you can actually ride a zip line from the catwalk under the bridge. You have a professional belayer who controls your speed and lowers you down, and you actually only drop 300 feet as you don’t start in the middle of the bridge, but a quarter of the way in. It’s kind of scary to start, but it was actually a very chill ride that we had a lot of fun doing!
10. There’s a chili cookoff in Fayetteville after the event
Alright, so you’ve worked up quite a hunger after watching all of that activity all day! Where to head for post-Bridge Day dinner? You can walk 10 minutes from the bridge right into Fayetteville for a fantastic chili cookoff and beer garden!
11. Renting a house is the best way to spend the weekend
Ah, the final piece, where to rest your head after a long day at the wild event that is Bridge Day! Since Fayetteville is a small town, the best options around are all vacation rentals. You can search Airbnb, or use these rental vendors provided by the town.
And with that, I think you have everything you need to know about attending Bridge Day in West Virginia! It really is a very unique and adventurous event that I can’t wait to go back to again soon!
Have any more questions about what it’s like to attend Bridge Day? Drop em below 🙂