New River Gorge & Bridge, West Virginia
LOVE THIS PLACE . it's FREE no cost to see this awesome bridge (didn't do the cat walk) to scared. went down the 1 way road to the bottom of the mountain & had a great family time watching rafters go by.
Long the longest steel-arch bridge in the world, the New River Bridge on Rt 19 was recently surpassed by the Lupu Bridge in Shanghai, China. Completed in 1977, the New River Bridge reduced a 45-minute drive down into the valley to a 45-second sprint over the river with hardly a blink of the eye. At 876 feet above the river and 3,030 feet long the bridge designers overcame such obstacles as abandoned and unmapped coal mines to build a true engineering marvel.
Despite its name, New River is considered to be one of the oldest rivers in the United States. In 1978 the US government protected 58 miles of the river and its surrounding area covering 70,000 acres. This is prime area for whitewater rafting, hiking, camping, fishing, biking and numerous other outdoor activities. From abandoned coal mines to prehistoric sites, the park covers a vast array of historical sites.
The New River Gorge bridge is the second highest in the U.S. I very much dislike driving over some bridges, and I was sort of afraid of this one, but it is really no big deal when you are driving over it. Why? You can't SEE how high you are from the top! We didn't realize how high up it is until we went to the Canyon Rim visitor center on the north side of the bridge. It looked really large from there . But it didn' t stop us from driving down to the bottom to look at the river! The road is a one-way road that has some very sharp turns. I am used to driving mountain roads, but I was worried about making the turns at a few places. We did make it down, went over the old bridge on the bottom , back up, and over the bridge again a second time to keep going .
While you are in the area, you should check out the New River Bridge on SR 19 north of Beckley.
The bridge is the world's longest single arch span bridge in the world and the second highest bridge in the United States.
There is a visitor center on the north side of the bridge and a scenic overlook. Its worth stopping for an hour and taking some great photos.
The New River Gorge is an 800-foot deep river valley in southern West Virginia that for years acted as a physical barrier to noth-south transportation in the state. To get across it, you used to have to take a 2-lane road down into the valley, across a bridge at the bottom, and then climb up the other side on another narrow, winding road. The total time required to cross the valley was about 45 minutes. That problem was solved in the 1970s, when a huge steel arch bridge was built to carry Route 19 across the valley, enabling motorists to get across in about 1 minute.
The New River Gorge Bridge is the 2nd longest steel arch bridge in the world, with a central arch spanning 1700 feet, and a total length of over 3000 feet. However, what makes it particularly impressive is its height (875 feet), and the beautiful New River Gorge scenery that serves as its backdrop. There is a visitors center at the northern end of the bridge, which has a set of observation patforms that allow you to see the bridge and the valley. If you are traveling anywhere near here, you must stop and check out the view. It is definitely worth the effort.
Once a year, the local county, Fayette County, holds a festival named Bridge Day, when they close off the bridge to traffic and allow people to rappel and parachute off of the bridge. We haven't made it to that event yet, but it sounds interesting.
The New River (which is in reality among the oldest rivers on the continent) is the site of a relatively new kind of National Park which encompasses the whole of a river. One of the Visitor's Centers is near Sandstone WV. The park contains over 70,000 acres of land along the New River.
The park is open year-round. Canyon Rim and Sandstone Visitor Centers are open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Thurmond Depot and Grandview operate seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Thurmond Depot's seasonal hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Grandview is open seasonally from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM.
You can see some of the park from the AMTRAK Cardinal which travels through New River Gorge on its route from New York, and some of the park is accessible from the road, but the majority of the river scenery and wildlife is only viewable from a boat. New River Gorge National River includes 53 miles of free-flowing New River, beginning at Bluestone Dam and ending at Hawks Nest Lake
The New River Gorge is an 800-foot deep valley that has been carved over the millenia by the rapidly flowing New River in the southern part of West Virginia. 53 miles of the river are protected as the New River Gorge National River by the US National Park Service. Aside from the scenic beauty of its gorge, the New River is best know for whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking, and for the impressive bridge (covered in a separate tip) that spans it near Fayetteville. While the nearby Gauley River is West Virginia' most challenging whitwater river, the New River is one of its most scenic. Guided rafting trips are available to the public through a number of private companies.
The best place to learn about the New River, its history and geology is at the Visitor's Center located just off of Route 19 near the northern end of the New River Bridge. A few hundred feet away from the Visitor's Center are stairs that take you down to a platform tha gives you a great view of the gorge and the bridge.
This visitors center next to the New River Gorge Bridge has a book store, a movie screen, and displays documenting the history of the gorge, the park, the bridge, and more. There is also a wonderful view of the canyon from inside or outside the visitors center, as it sits on the cliff on the edge of the canyon.
The New River is not new at all. It is one of the oldest rivers in the nation, and a national river. It is considered the best whitewater river in the eastern US, and offers an excellent venue for hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding as well.
Other key sites to see are Dolly Sods Wilderness area, Seneca rocks and caverns, Blackwater Falls, Hawks Nest. If you are a skier, you will find Snowshoe Mountain an excellent spot for eastern skiing December through March.
This is the New River Bridge. I don't remember the details but it highest span this side of somewhere, and longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world.
It is a looonnngggg ways down to the bottom. I don't know if they still do this, but in the past they would allow people to parachute or bungie jump off the bridge.
We drove down the very steep road with many curves to the bottom of the gorge. Watched the whitewater rafters go down the rapids! A few people fell out. That was enough to keep me from doing it....